KeepHealthCare.ORG – Multiple Sevier County zip line visitors test positive for norovirus; 1 for E. coli
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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – The Tennessee Department of Health is continuing to investigate an outbreak of illness among people who visited a zip line attraction in Gatlinburg. They say multiple patients have tested positive for norovirus, while one tested positive for both norovirus and enteropathogenic E. coli
The department received over 500 reports of gastrointestinal illness from people who visited CLIMB Works Zipline Canopy Tour since mid-June. At this point, health officials say they cannot point to one single cause of the outbreak.
Previous story: Tests confirm E. coli in well water at Sevier County zip line attraction
“Preliminary testing and environmental health assessments indicate the water system at the zipline facility may have contributed to the outbreak; however, there are likely other sources involved in the spread of the illnesses, including contaminated surfaces and person-to-person transmission,” said TDH Deputy State Epidemiologist John Dunn, DVM, PhD.
Dunn says water testing showed fecal contamination of the facility’s water system and E. coli. Testing is still underway to look for bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms. He says while identifying norovirius in stool samples is not difficult, it is more challenging to identify it in food, water and the environment.
Norovirus causes acute gastrointestinal illness, characterized by sudden nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptom usually last one or two days. Enteropathogenic E. coli causes watery diarrhea. Symptoms can last several days.
TDH says CLIMB Works is cooperating fully with the investigation, recommendations and regulatory actions. The investigation is ongoing.