A trip to Grand Canyon National Park took a turn when more than 220 tourists were sickened with the norovirus on their trips.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the latest norovirus situation is considered by the CDC the largest documented outbreak to ever occur in the Grand Canyon National Park’s backcountry. The incidents occurred between April 1st and June 17th. At least 222 visitors reported being ill during or after their trips.
The media outlet further reported that of the 222, 178 people reported getting sick with the norovirus. These incidents happened while the visitors were at the Grand Canyon. At least 94 visitors reported the symptom of vomiting and 79 reported diarrhea. The CDC also stated that around 4,770 tourists visited the national park’s backcountry between April and May 2022.
It was further revealed that on May 11th, the National Park Service and local health officials contacted the CDC. This was after numerous reports about tourists being sick with stomach issues. The officials then distributed a survey to all hikers and river rafters who had backcountry permits. This was to see who had these issues while on their trips. The CDC shared that a total of 1,327 backcountry visitors filed out at least a portion of the survey.
The CDC Issues Statement About the Grand Canyon Norovirus Situation
In a new statement, the CDC spoke about the Grand Canyon norovirus Issue. “A total of 191 rafters and 31 backpackers reported symptoms constant with acute gastroenteritis. Specimens from portable toilets used by nine rivers rafting trip groups were tested… The test results were positive for norovirus.”
Officials also warned that norovirus is a highly contagious stomach flu. It causes vomiting and diarrhea. Anyone can be infected with the virus. It can be spread through having contact with someone who has it, eating contaminated food or water, or putting their hands in their mouth after touching a surface that has the virus on it.
The CDC also revealed that previous norovirus spread that occurred among visitors in the Grand Canyon was from contamination of foot products and person-to-person. Visitors are to be strict about hygiene. “An increase in norovirus activity was observed at a national level in spring 2022, with the number of outbreak reports returning to pre-pandemic levels for the first time since March 2020.”
The CDC further warned that cases are growing throughout the U.S. It also said that with visitors returning to the national park at pre-COVID levels, the potential exists for future spreads. River rafting and camping might also amplify the spread because of limited hygiene supplies and close contact with those infected.
“Prevention and control of future outbreaks includes rapid reporting of illnesses, symptom screening before trip launch to minimize introduction of illnesses,” the CDC added. “Strict adherence to hand hygiene with soap and water and sanitation protocols, disinfection of water before consumption, prompt separation of ill passengers, and minimizing of interactions with other rafting groups.”