Fecal fountains: CDC warns of diarrheal outbreaks linked to poopy splash pads - Ars Technica
Aug 05, 2022 1 min, 38 secs
This week the agency published a report outlining two gastrointestinal outbreaks linked to a single recreational splash pad in Kansas.

The most obvious is that small children generally have poor hygiene and toileting skills and relish sitting and standing on jets, which—as the CDC warns bluntly—"can rinse poop off your butt." Small children are also most likely to get that water in their mouths, thus completing the fecal-oral route in record time.

The authors of the new report, written by CDC and Kansas health officials, referenced one 2010 study that documented children's splash-pad behavior and found "children wearing diapers, sitting on water jets, and placing their open mouths to the water.".

Moreover, the jets and sprays themselves pose a risk because when the water gets aerosolized, it depletes the free chlorine concentration, making it more difficult to consistently maintain the concentration needed to prevent disease spread.

If all that wasn't nauseating enough, the report on the two Kansas outbreaks notes that the splash pad involved was in a wildlife park where people visited exhibits of animals, including lemurs, before going into the water sprays.

Instead, illnesses were associated with playing in the splash pad and getting splash pad water in the mouth.

All the sickened people played in the splash pad, and all reported getting water in their mouths.

In the days between the two outbreaks, investigators identified more cases of acute gastrointestinal illnesses in people who visited the park, but they lacked laboratory data to link them to either of the identified outbreaks directly.

With additional cases identified on June 19, the investigators tallied 63 gastrointestinal illnesses, and the splash pad was closed down on June 19.

The splash pad reopened July 24, and no additional splash-pad illnesses were identified.

For now, though, simple messaging can also help prevent splashy outbreaks, such as signs telling splashers and caregivers: "Don't get in the water if sick with diarrhea," "Don't stand or sit above the jets," and "Don't swallow the water.".

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