KDHE shares update on Tanganyika Splash Park investigation, what is Shigella?

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SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and Sedgwick County Health Department (SCHD) announced Wednesday that they are continuing to investigate cases of illness associated with Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard.

KDHE stated they became aware of the possible link between the cases on Friday and began investigating the same day.

According to KDHE, initially, there were three cases that were identified as linked to the park.  These cases have tested positive for Shigella bacteria. Additional testing is underway to determine if the bacteria from each person are related. Shigella is a bacteria spread from person to person through exposure to contaminated poop (feces).

Shigella spreads easily; just a small number of bacteria can spread illness. Someone can become infected with Shigella through swallowing contaminated recreational water, touching items that are contaminated and touching your mouth, or caring for someone who has Shigella, including cleaning up after the person uses the bathroom or changing diapers.

On June 20, KDHE and SCHD released a survey for people who had visited Tanganyika and experienced fever, diarrhea or vomiting. More than 200 people have responded to the survey. Further analysis of the survey results will determine which respondents may be connected to this investigation.

Anyone who experienced symptoms of fever, diarrhea, or vomiting after visiting Tanganyika Wildlife Park on or after May 28, 2021, and have not completed the survey, is asked to take the survey here. KDHE advised that if you visit a healthcare facility, ask the medical provider to test your stool (feces).

Those who live in Sedgwick County, and do not have access to a computer to complete the survey, may contact the Sedgwick County Health Department via email at DiseaseReporting@sedgwick.gov or call 316-660-5558 and leave a message. Those who live outside of Sedgwick County and do not have access to a computer to complete the survey, are asked to contact their local health department.

The Tanganyika Splash Park is served by a water line from the City of Goddard. At this time, records indicate that the city is supplying compliant drinking water based on their routine monitoring. 

KDHE said the investigation is ongoing.

In response to KDHE’s investigation, Tanganyika Wildlife Park director Matt Fouts shared the following statement Wednesday evening:

“I’m glad the county and KDHE were able to confirm the bacteria that connected the three cases. Not knowing what is wrong is sometimes more stressful and scary. It has been one of the most frequently asked questions we have received and we weren’t able to provide an answer. Now those that are sick can consult with their doctors to see if that is what is affecting them and get the proper treatment.”

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