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Posted: July 11, 2018

500 sick after potential E. coli outbreak at Gatlinburg, Tennessee zip line site

More than 500 people reported becoming ill after drinking well water during a zip lining adventure in Tennessee.
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More than 500 people reported becoming ill after drinking well water during a zip lining adventure in Tennessee.

By Najja Parker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

GATLINBURG, Tenn. —

Hundreds of people reported developing a gastrointestinal illness after visiting a popular zip line site in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, according to a new report. 

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Researchers from the Tennessee Department of Health recently conducted a survey to find out whether visitors became sick after visiting CLIMB Works, WVLT News reported. Investigators sent out questionnaires to 2,901 people who booked zip line tours at the attraction, and 808 replied. 

Of the responses, 548 reported illnesses. The participants said they experienced symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, which are all associated with gastrointestinal illness. 

Upon further analysis, scientists determined that many of the visitors drank well water served out of coolers placed along the zip line course. When the water was tested, several samples were positive for E. coli and total coliforms. 

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CLIMB Works launched its own investigation earlier this month after 80 to 100 people called the business to report symptoms of gastrointestinal illness after visiting the site, according to WVLT News. Several even posted on the  company’s Facebook page about their illnesses. 

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CLIMB Works has now begun serving bottled water after health officials advised against using the well water. A treatment system has also been installed as investigations continue.

The company is offering visitors who experienced sickness full refunds.

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