THURSDAY, Aug. 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Details of two outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness associated with splash pad use in a park in Kansas in June 2021 are presented in the Aug. 5 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Samaria K. Aluko, M.P.H., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues identified two distinct outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness associated with a Kansas park that has animal exhibits and a splash pad. Patrons who visited the park during the period from May 28 through June 19 were encouraged to complete an online outbreak questionnaire; data were analyzed from 404 respondents who visited the park once during the study period.

The researchers identified an outbreak of shigellosis among respondents who visited on June 11, 2021, with 21 cases among 72 respondents. Six of 27 respondents who visited the park on June 18, 2021, experienced illness meeting the norovirus infection case definition. Both these infections can be transmitted by contaminated water. Illness was associated with getting splash pad water in the mouth in both outbreaks (multiply imputed adjusted odds ratios, 6.4 and 28.6, respectively).

“These two splash pad outbreaks were caused by pathogens readily inactivated by free chlorine, indicating that the outbreaks might have been prevented by maintaining water disinfection,” the authors write. “As splash pad use increases, exempting splash pads from regulation under public health codes needs to be reconsidered.”

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