State Health Department Update on the Investigation into the Gastrointestinal Illness Outbreak Associated with the Great Escape

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 26, 2008) – The State Health Department is continuing to investigate 435 reports of gastrointestinal illness associated with the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Waterpark, in Queensbury. The source of the outbreak is still under investigation.

While the overall number of ill has risen, most of the additional reports are from people experiencing past illness who have since recovered. Since March 22 there have been fewer than 10 reports of illness associated with the outbreak. The number of people reporting recent illness has declined significantly, with the outbreak peaking during the weekend of March 15th.

The state Health Department Laboratory, Wadsworth Center, is testing clinical specimens and has detected norovirus, also called Norwalk virus. This is consistent with the reports of the sudden onset of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea that lasts for 1 – 2 days.

Norovirus is typically very contagious and persons can become infected by having direct contact will an ill person, eating or drinking contaminated food or liquids, and/or by touching contaminated surfaces and then placing their hand in their mouth.

To protect public health, there has been a daily State Health Department presence on-site at the Great Escape since the outbreak was reported on March 17, the Department is ensuring that the resort is in compliance with the state requirements and that infection control measures, including cleaning, disinfection, increased hand hygiene and safe food handling measures, are being implemented effectively.

Ill resort employees are required to not return to work and remain out of work for at least 48 hours after they become free of symptoms. The resort has retained a physician, an infectious disease specialist, to advise them on infection control practices and further monitor the situation.

To report illness associated with the Great Escape resort please contact the Department Call Center at 1-800-278-2965.