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

Water samples tested positive for E. coli, according to health officials

What is E. coli and how to avoid it

Hundreds of people reported 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 if visitors had gotten ill after visiting CLIMB Works, WVLT News said. They sent out the questionnaire to 2,901 people who booked zip line tours at the attraction, and 808 replied.

Of the responses, 548 reported illness. 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 used 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.

CLIMB Works launched its 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 took to the company's Facebook page to reveal they had gotten sick.

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, and visitors who have experienced sickness are being offered full refunds.

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