Dozens of Hikers Got Very Sick After Visiting Famed Waterfalls

Arizona tourist destination may have been hit by virus outbreak
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 14, 2024 2:00 AM CDT
Dozens of Hikers Got Very Sick After Visiting Famed Waterfalls
This photo provided by Francesca Dupuy shows the Havasu Falls on the Havasupai reservation in Arizona, Sept. 4, 2023. Dozens of tourists say they fell ill on a recent visit to a popular and picturesque stretch of waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.   (Francesca Dupuy via AP)

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park, the AP reports. Madelyn Melchiors, a 32-year-old veterinarian from Kingman, Arizona, said she was vomiting severely Monday evening and had a fever that endured for days after camping on the Havasupai reservation. She eventually hiked out to her car in a weakened state through stiflingly hot weather and was thankful a mule transported her pack several miles up a winding trail, she said. While camping, Melchiors said she drank from a spring that is tested and listed as potable, as well as other sources using a gravity-fed filter that screens out bacteria and protozoa—but not viruses. The Havasupai Tribe Tourism Office says it tested the water last week from a local spring that visitors rely on for drinking and found it was safe for human consumption.

FOX-10 TV in Phoenix first reported on the illnesses Wednesday, saying some groups opted to take a helicopter out of the canyon because they were too sick to hike out. As many as 300 people have posted on social media in recent days describing their travails with gastrointestinal problems. Coconino County health officials said Tuesday they received a report from a group of people who hiked to the waterfalls of "gastrointestinal illness" but didn't know how many people have been affected. A spokesperson said hikers should take extra precautions to prevent the spread of illness, including filtering water. "Watch for early symptoms of norovirus, such as stomach pain and nausea, before the trip. Norovirus spreads easily on camping trips, especially when clean water supplies can be limited and hand washing facilities may be non-existent. Isolate people who are sick from other campers," the county said.

(More Grand Canyon stories.)

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