Seattle Parks and Recreation closed Lincoln Park’s wading pool Friday after Public Health-Seattle & King County learned a group of children who attended day camp in the park became sick after playing in the pool.
Public Health suspected the children may have contracted norovirus, which causes diarrhea and vomiting. Norovirus is highly contagious and can be spread if traces of the vomit or stool of someone who is infected enter one’s mouth.
This can happen by swimming in contaminated waters, eating foods that are contaminated, touching surfaces with the norovirus on them, or by having contact with someone who is infected.
The health department was contacted by the children’s teacher. Officials didn’t say how many of the 18 day-camp children who went in the pool were infected.
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Seattle Parks and Recreation received the call from Public Health around 11 a.m. on Friday – after the wading pool had opened for the day.
“We immediately closed the pool,” said Aquatics Manager Kathy Whitman, “and began a thorough cleaning process with high concentrations of chlorine. We are disinfecting every possible surface.”
All of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s wading pools are chlorinated, and chemical levels are checked hourly by a trained wading-pool attendant. The chemical levels in the pool on Tuesday, July 16 – the day the children are suspected to have contracted the virus – were within standards set by the State Health Code.
James Apa, spokesman for Public Health-Seattle & King County, said the the department’s investigation is ongoing, but the pool was slated to re-open Saturday after being drained, cleaned and then refilled.
“Seattle Parks is doing the right thing and taking precautionary measures,” Apa said. “Once they clean (the pool) out and refill it, we’re not requiring further steps.”
Seattle Parks and Recreation also cleaned all of the play area near the wading pool, as well as picnic tables, garbage cans and bathrooms in the area as an extra precaution, according to a news release. The health department has reviewed and approved Seattle Parks and Recreation’s clean-up plan.
“We are extremely cautious when it comes to water safety,” Whitman said. “If we are aware that a wading pool has become contaminated with stool or vomit, we close the pool, clean it and re-fill it. We had no indication on Tuesday that the wading pool at Lincoln Park had any possible contamination.”