During the ten years between 1989 and 1999, recreational water venues were associated with approximately 170 outbreaks. Of those outbreaks, nearly half resulted in gastrointestinal illness from such pathogens as Cryptosporidium, E. coli O157:H7, and Shigella.
In 1997, 369 people, mostly children, became ill with Cryptosporidiosis after playing in a water fountain at a Minnesota zoo. In 1999, at least 38 people became ill with Cryptosporidium or Shigella infections after playing in a spray fountain at a beachside park. Like the outbreak that recently sickened nearly 2,000 people at Seneca Lake State Park in New York, previous outbreaks were preventable.
“While the New York State Health Department has confirmed the presence of Cryptosporidium in storage tanks that supply water to the spray fountain, it is not clear as to whether a filtration system was in place that could have prevented, or at least lessened the extent, of this outbreak,” said William Marler, an attorney who has represented victims of outbreaks traced to contaminated water. “Even if a filtration system was in place, it seems that it was not properly maintained.”
In the June 30, 1999 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made the following recommendations:
To reduce risk for contamination and disease transmission, persons visiting recreational water venues should
1) avoid entering a traditional pool or playing in an interactive fountain if they have diarrhea;
2) avoid swallowing pool or fountain water;
3) practice good hygiene by taking a soap and water shower at home or at the pool, especially after a bowel movement and before entering the water;
4) escort young children to the toilet frequently and clean their bottoms thoroughly before allowing them to resume play;
5) avoid sitting on or over fountain jets because this can increase the risk for water contamination; and
6) take precautions not to contaminate foods or beverages consumed in or near the bathing area with pool or fountain water. Parents should be aware that no diaper (including swim diapers or swim pants) completely prevents stool leakage. If diapered children are to play in waterparks, diapers should be changed immediately after a bowel movement in restrooms where hands and bottoms can be washed thoroughly with soap and water.
Marler’s Seattle law firm, Marler Clark (http://www.marlerclark.com) and the Rochester firm of Underberg & Kessler (http://www.underberg-kessler.com), together represented most of the victims of the Brook-Lea Country Club Salmonella outbreak of 2002.