Nocatee sanitizing water parks after children report stomach illness

Source of illness unknown, but community management taking precautions

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Dozens of children in St. Johns County's Nocatee community have come down with a stomach illness, and although the source is unknown, community management is taking precautionary action.

Holly Simoneau, a mother of four children, said two of her children got sick over the weekend, and after she looked through neighborhood groups on Facebook, she learned they weren't the only ones dealing with symptoms including vomiting, stomach pain and mild fevers.

“I thought, well, there’s a stomach bug going around and then I started noticing similarities. We were all at the pool around the same timeframe and the onset of symptoms occurred around the same time,” Simoneau said.

Simoneau started tallying the number of children who got sick after going to one of the community pools. Once the number climbed into the forties, she reached out to David Ray, the community manager.

“He answered right away, and he seemed very concerned," Simoneau said. "He was going to look into it and I had no doubt he would."

The Tolomato Community Development District owns the Nocatee Splash Waterpark where Simoneau said she took her kids over the weekend. Out of an abundance of caution, the district is addressing concerns. It said none of its staff members came down with an illness.

“The safety of the water park is always a top priority for us and hearing of an illness in the community, we’ve got to make sure that we do everything that is in our power to do,” Ray said.

The district has taken various precautions. Over the past few days, district staff has been hard at work sanitizing its water parks including all decks, restrooms, equipment and more than 2,000 pieces of furniture.

In addition, the Tolomato CDD brought in members from an independent state certified lab to take water samples. Test results are expected by Friday.

“The park is safe. Even hearing speculation of an issue in the community, we take that seriously and are doing everything we can to be proactive to maintain the park as safe as we possibly can,” Ray said.

Simoneau said as of Wednesday morning, she has counted nearly 80 similar cases. 

“All of these people were at the pool either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. I’m not saying the water is contaminated with anything, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that we should look into it to rule it out,” Simoneau said.

Several parents who live in Nocatee, including Simoneau, told News4Jax they’re thankful for the fast action by management.

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