Doctors explain bacteria found in 3 cases of illness in Tanganyika splash park visitors

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 5:22 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Thursday further explained the origin and symptoms from a bacteria connected with at least three cases of people who became ill after visiting the Tanganyika Falls Splash Park at Tanganyika Wildlife Park, west of Wichita in Sedgwick County.

The bacteria, shigella, is spread from person-to-person through contaminated stool. The main symptom of shigella is diarrhea, bloody diarrhea in some cases. Eyewitness News spoke with a pediatrician who said there is really no medicine you can take, but the symptoms should get better in about a week. Eyewitness News also spoke with the director of parks and recreation for the City of Wichita who emphasized the importance of making sure your child isn’t sick if you’re planning to go to a pool or splash pad.

The investigation into the cases connected with Tanganyika happened after some people started experiencing symptoms of diarrhea and fatigue after visiting the wildlife park’s splash park. The KDHE on Wednesday announced the link of shigella to illnesses in people who visited the park.

“It really likes to eat away at the walls inside of the intestines, it causes some cramping, it causes some fever and can cause diarrhea, even diarrhea that can be pretty bloody looking,” said Ascension Via Christi Pediatrician Dr. Amy Seery.

Wichita Parks and Recreation Director Troy Houtman discussed the bigger issue and what staff at Wichita public pools and splash pads do if a child has an “accident.”

“A solid piece of defecation, what we’ll do is obviously scoop it out and take it out, clear out the area and add in some more chlorine so that we have plenty of chlorine in the water, We’ll clear the pool for 15 to 20 minutes and then we’ll let people back in,” Houtman said.

But if a child in a pool or at a splash pad who has diarrhea, Houtman said it’s more concerning because that usually means the child is sick and may have strong cases of bacteria in their feces.

“What we’ll do is clear the pool, clean it up as much as we possibly can and add in a lot of chlorine,” he said. “...Then, we make sure we give it a chance for the chlorine to kill the bacteria in there, all the other germs and then we’ll let them in after an hour or so.”

Dr. Seery recommends fluids if you or your child does get ill from shigella.

“Pedialyte is a great option, it’s really balanced well with the sugars, salts and fluids that you need,” she said. “You can do a little bit of Tylenol or ibuprofen for the fever if they’re really uncomfortable. I would not give them an antidiarrheal medicine. It can make them severely ill.”

IF your child is sick or has any sickly symptoms, it’s recommended that you give them a couple of weeks after they’re feeling better before taking them to a pool or splash pad.

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