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Outbreak of illness at splash park not caused by zoo animals

August 9, 2021 GMT

GODDARD, Kan. (AP) — An outbreak of illness at a splash park near Wichita was not caused by animals at its interactive zoo, health officials said.

The Wichita Eagle reported that email exchanges it obtained through an open records request indicate none of the water samples health officials took from the splash park at Tanganyika Wildlife Park had animal-linked contamination.

The newspaper reviewed more than a month of email correspondence between state and county health officials and park director Matt Fouts with details about the results of water samples taken June 19 and sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Christine Steward, deputy health director with the Sedgwick County Health Department, sent Fouts an email on July 8 saying that the organisms isolated from water samples “help us rule out the animals at the park.”

Health officials have said that eight people who visited the park on June 11 contracted Shigella, a bacteria that spreads from person-to-person through exposure to contaminated feces. People who visited the splash park also have tested positive for the norovirus, sapovirus and a type of E. coli called enteropathogenic E. coli.

The splash park was allowed to reopen July 27 after it made necessary changes and passed inspection.