“Splash Pad” of the animal park source of serious gastrointestinal infections in children | healthy aging
THURSDAY, Aug. 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Splashes — those shallow pools of wet, refreshing summer fun for kids — can also be sources of nasty gastro-infections for youngsters who swallow water while playing.
That’s the lesson to be learned from a new analysis of outbreaks of two bacterial diseases, shigellosis and norovirus, that struck children frolicking in a wading pool at a Kansas wildlife park last summer.
A total of 21 children contracted shigellosis (caused by shigella bacteria) during an outbreak that began on June 11, 2021, and six more cases of norovirus were linked to visits to the animal park a week later, according to researchers from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Both diseases can be easily transmitted through swallowed water if it’s contaminated with feces that carry the bacteria, said a team led by Samaria Aluko of the CDC’s Division of Food, Water, and Environmental Diseases.
Symptoms of shigellosis and norovirus are not easy: vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever that can last a day or two (for norovirus) and up to a week or even longer for shigellosis.
None of the 21 children with shigellosis died from the dehydrating illness, although three cases involved an illness so severe that the children required an average of three days of hospital care. In addition, one of the six children who contracted the norovirus was hospitalized for a day.
In each of the Kansas outbreaks, “having water in the mouth with a splash pad was associated with illness on both days,” the researchers said. “Contributing factors to the outbreak included inadequate disinfection, equipment and training.”
An investigation after the outbreaks found that “the wildlife park‘s unregulated wading pool included jets, tipping buckets and slides,” Aluko and colleagues said. Many deviations from guidelines intended to curb infections have been noted.
For example, “the water was in the collection tank [into which water drains after spraying users and before it is filtered, disinfected and resprayed] overnight instead of being continuously recirculated, filtered and chlorinated,” the CDC team said. The splash pad also lacked an automated controller capable of regulating the amount of germ-killing chlorine in the pool. ‘water.
Finally, the staff members who operated the park’s wading pool had no documentation to show that they had received training to operate it safely.
The outbreaks have resulted in the paddling pool being closed and steps have been taken to correct the issues found. “After implementing these interventions, no other splash-associated illnesses were identified,” the CDC researchers noted.
Currently, “state and county public health codes [in Kansas] do not include splash pad regulations. Thus, these places are generally not inspected and environmental health expertise is limited,” Aluko’s group said.
They suggested adhering to water chlorination guidelines more closely and perhaps posting signs to help prevent bacteria-infected children from getting into the splash: “Do not enter the water if you have diarrhea”, “Do not stand or sit over the jets” and “Do not swallow the water.”
The report was published in the August 5 issue of the CDC journal. Weekly report on morbidity and mortality.
Learn more about shigellosis at the Mayo Clinic.
SOURCE: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report, August 5, 2022