Dozens of tourists fell ill while hiking to the Grand Canyon waterfalls - ForumDaily
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Dozens of tourists fell ill while hiking the Grand Canyon waterfalls

Many tourists said they fell ill while traveling to a popular tourist destination in Arizona - the waterfalls of the Grand Canyon National Park, writes Associated Press.

Woman hiker with a yellow backpack on her back climbing a stone path next to Nevada Fall

Photo: Tomic

Madeline Melchiors, a 32-year-old veterinarian from Kingman, Arizona, said she began to feel very sick. On the evening of June 10, she developed a fever that lasted several days after returning from camping on the Havasupai Reservation. The woman had difficulty getting from the camp to her car along a winding path several kilometers long. Luckily, Melchiors' 15kg backpack was delivered by mule because she was so unwell she was unable to carry her luggage herself.

“When I got home, I slept for 16 hours and drank a lot of electrolyte medications,” said the experienced tourist. “But I still feel bad.”

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The Bureau of Indian Affairs reported June 13 that a clinic on the reservation was providing timely medical care to those who became ill. Environmental health officers from the Indian Health Service regional office were sent to Havasupai to find the source of the infection and prevent its spread.

At the tourist camp, Melchiors drank water from a source considered potable, as well as from other bodies of water. She used a filter that screens out bacteria and protozoan microorganisms, but not viruses. There were problems with soap and water during the hike, so after using the toilet the woman used hand sanitizer.

Coconolly County health officials reported June 11 that a group of hikers hiking the falls had symptoms of gastroenteritis, but it was unclear how many people were affected because the Indian reservation is outside the county's jurisdiction.

However, county health spokeswoman Trish Lees said tourists should take extra precautions, including filtering their water, to prevent the spread of the disease.

“Watch for early symptoms such as abdominal pain and nausea. Norovirus, which causes intestinal problems, spreads quickly on hikes, especially when clean water supplies are limited and hands cannot be properly washed. Sick people should be isolated from other tourists.”

Thousands of vacationers come to the Havasupai Reservation every year to camp near the picturesque waterfalls. You can only get there on foot, on horseback or by helicopter. Hikers must navigate 13 kilometers of winding desert trails before reaching the first waterfall. Behind it will be the village of Supai, where about 500 tribal members live year-round. After another 3 kilometers there are campsites.

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Tourism is the Havasupai Tribe's main source of income. Camping facilities are spartan: campers use composting toilets and are required to pick up their own trash. However, judging by recent reviews from travelers on social networks, the trails are littered with garbage - toilet paper, plastic bottles, gasoline cans.

The Havasupai Tribe's tourism office said it tested water from a local spring used by tourists last week and found it safe to drink.

However, FOX-10 TV in Phoenix reported June 12 that some groups chose to leave the canyon by helicopter because they were too sick and weak to walk. Dozens of other tourists have posted on social media about their stomach problems in recent days.

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