Bacteria sickens more than 500 at Tennessee zipline center

Desiree Burns
July 11, 2018

The officials have yet to confirm the official count of people who fell sick but they were able to pin down the possible cause of the gastrointestinal illness: the well water served in coolers in different stations at the venue. Using CLIMB Works' online sales records to email 2,901 surveys to patrons, the Tennessee Department of Health learned that 548 of the 808 respondents reported illness.

Others who commented on Oney's review also shared that they became sick after spending some time at the attraction.

Water samples were on their way to a lab in Nashville for additional tests, said Gail Harmon, assistant director of the East Tennessee Region Health Department.

The state said while the investigation is ongoing, routine testing done on the well water were indicative of contamination for E. coli and it plans to do more testing on environmental sampling to support the investigation.

Those sick are reporting symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Health officials said that anyone whose visited CLIMB Works and is experiencing any symptoms associated with gastrointestinal illness should contact their health care provider.

The health department investigation began after July 4.

"Vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness - awful sickness", she told WVLT's Robert Grant.

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Writing a review on the park's Facebook page, Emily Oney said she toured CLIMB's Works on June 7. "I was on my death bed".

"It was taking us out one by one", she said. Local health officials determined the water well as the root cause of infection among the visitors.

CLIMB Works responded to several of the comments on Facebook, saying on Saturday they "feel very bad if we had any part in anyone getting sick".

The company also said 80 to 100 people called them to say they became sick with gastrointestinal illnesses after visiting the attraction, WVLT reported. It said they have since switched to bottled water.

Climb Works responded that they "feel bad if we had any part in anyone getting sick" and wanted to speak to people directly who may have gotten sick at the facility.

The business said it wants to do its best to "make it right" for anyone who experienced sickness after their visits and is offering full refunds.

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