KDHE provides update on CDC testing in Tanganyika splash park case, local law firm amends petition

Kansas

Tanganyika Wildlife Park splash pad, May 2021. (KSNW photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — On Friday, KDHE and the Sedgwick County Health Department (SCHD) said they are continuing to investigate cases of illness associated with Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard.

In a Friday news release, KDHE said, “KDHE became aware of the first three cases linked to the park on June 18. All three people tested positive for Shigella bacteria. Water samples collected by KDHE at Tanganyika Splash Park on June 19 were tested at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). No Shigella bacteria were detected, but coliform and E. coli bacteria were detected in some of the samples. In water sample testing, the presence of these bacteria indicates likely fecal contamination. The water results are a snapshot of water quality on the day the samples were collected.  Further interpretation of the water sample results is ongoing.

Three additional people have tested positive for Shigella bacteria, bringing the total cases linked to the park to six. All six cases visited the Splash Park area on June 11, 2021. Investigations into other possible linked cases are ongoing. Additional testing is underway to determine if the bacteria from each person are related.

KDHE and SCHD have also identified other diarrheal illnesses among individuals who reported being at the Splash Park. Individuals have tested positive for norovirus, sapovirus, and a type of E. coli called enteropathogenic E. coli. Investigations are ongoing as to whether these illnesses are associated with exposure at the Splash Park.

The Splash Park has remained closed since June 19. Since then, Sedgwick County has worked with Tanganyika on improvements to processes which will meet the CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code (www.cdc.gov/mahc).

A Wichita-based injury law firm, Patterson Legal Group, who recently filed a lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court representing people impacted at the Tanganyika Falls Splash Park at Tanganyika Wildlife Park announced Friday that a recent amendment to its original individual petition filed against the park will now include one consolidated petition listing 47 parties.

In a news release on Friday, the law firm stated, ‘this amended action filed in Sedgwick County District Court on behalf of these injured parties alleges that TWP failed to maintain proper sanitary conditions that resulted in guests at Tanganyika Falls Splash Park being exposed to a dangerous pathogen. Further, TWP did not warn guests once they knew, or should have known, about the disease outbreak.’

The petition further claimed that the disease outbreak was spread by an organism that existed at the park for a significant period of time, or was caused by water contaminated with organisms, pathogens, and/or fecal matter and that the negligence of management has caused many customers to get sick, including children who have required ICU treatment.

KDHE shared on June 23rd that there were three cases that were identified as linked to the park, those cases have tested positive for Shigella bacteria. Shigella is a bacteria spread from person to person through exposure to contaminated poop (feces).

KDHE and SCHD said this investigation remains ongoing.

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