Tennessee health investigation of zipline illness continues

Health officials: 548 sick after Gatlinburg zipline visit; E. coli possible

Health officials: 548 sick after Gatlinburg zipline visit; E. coli possible

More than 500 people have been infected with E. coli bacteria at a Tennessee zip line attraction, the Tennessee Department of Health said.

The Tennessee Department of Health continues to investigate an outbreak of illness after receiving more than 500 reports of gastrointestinal illness among visitors to the CLIMB Works Zipline Canopy Tour in Gatlinburg.

Of the 808 responses, Harmon said 505 people said they had parties varying in size from two to 30 people, but the surveys did ask how many in the party became sick.

The Health Department said respondents are located in multiple states and visited CLIMB Works between mid-June and early July.

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 morning after her zip line tour, visitor Emily Oney posted on Facebook that most if not all eight people on her tour "were throwing up and terribly sick and could not figure out why".

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The investigation is ongoing and state investigators have not yet identified the specific strain of E. coli.

Anyone that has visited CLIMB Works between June 15 and July 6 and is now experiencing gastrointestinal illness is asked to contact their heath care provider and get stool testing. "I was on my death bed".

"Terrible way to end our family vacation", Oney said in her post. One said 10 of the 12 people in the group could not get out of the bed while several others chose to get medical attention from the emergency room. One person said 10 of the 12 people in their group were even bedridden, and several com-mentors said they had become so sick they took trips to the emergency room. A new filtration system and bottled water for guests have been added.

CLIMB Works, which bills itself as the top-rated zipline tour in Tennessee, responded to Oney saying the company feels "awful" if it had "any part in anyone getting sick".

"We did contact the Health Department to try to pinpoint if it was water contamination or the contagious stomach bug that has been affecting the area this summer", CLIMB Works wrote.

CLIMB Works is offering refunds to anyone who was affected by the illness, according to WATE News out of Knoxville.

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