More Boaters Fall Sick

This release courtesy Grand Canyon National Park

National Park Service notified of ill river passengers

Grand Canyon, AZ – Three river concessioners reported cases of gastrointestinal illness on three separate river trips on the Colorado River within Grand Canyon National Park today.  Gastrointestinal illness is characterized by vomiting and/or diarrhea and is one of the most common illnesses in the United States with an estimated 23 million cases per year.

One river concessioner reported gastrointestinal illness in five of their

28 passengers.  The trip had launched on May 13 at Lees Ferry and is expected off the river at Whitmore Wash on May 28.

The second river concessioner reported six to seven of their 15 passengers had experienced vomiting.  The trip had launched on May 1 and is expected off the river at Diamond Creek on May 18.

The third river concessioner reported that six of their 16 passengers had gastrointestinal illness.  The trip launched from Lees Ferry on May 12 and will take out at Lake Mead National Recreation Area on May 26.

A case was also reported to the National Park Service on May 5 that included five passengers on a commercial trip that had launched from Lees Ferry on May 1.  The trip ended at Whitmore Wash on May 10.  Five of their

15 passengers were reported to have had gastrointestinal illness during the trip.

The National Park Service and a consultant from the Public Health Department are investigating the reports.  Samples were taken from the first trip that reported illnesses earlier this month.  Additional samples will be taken based on these latest reports and passengers from each of the trips will be interviewed to determine if there were any commonalities or inter-related events.

The National Park Service requires both commercial and noncommercial river runners to report any gastrointestinal illness that occurs on the river at the end of a trip.  However, trip leaders are required to report gastrointestinal illness within 24 hours if three or more passengers or crew experience gastrointestinal illness during a trip.  Commercial trip leaders are required to notify the concessioner as soon as possible using a satellite phone, contacting a National Park Service patrol trip, radio or other available means.  The concessioner then notifies the National Park Service.  Noncommercial trip leaders are required to notify the National Park Service directly using one of the methods listed above.  The regulation has proven successful in helping identify clusters of illness and the routes of transmission which allows the National Park Service and Public Health Department to develop interventions that may help slow down the spread of illness in the future.