01:00 - Source: WFLA
Airport closes fountains after people sickened
CNN —  

After six passengers traveling through a Cleveland airport this week became sick, officials shut down water fountains and brought in an independent company to test the water.

At least six passengers who traveled on Tampa-bound Frontier Airlines Flight 1397 on Tuesday fell ill after leaving Cleveland.

The passengers, who were not traveling as a group, were vomiting by the time the plane landed, said Janet Scherberger, a Tampa International Airport spokeswoman.

Health officials have not confirmed what caused the illness.

Michele Dynia, a spokeswoman for Cleveland’s airport, said earlier this week the airport was uncertain if any sickened passengers drank from the closed fountains, but the devices were taken offline out of an abundance of caution.

When asked if any other people at the airport reported being sick after drinking from the fountains, Dynia said no other passengers were ill.

The Cleveland Department of Public Health would interview the six affected passengers and try to confirm whether they drank water from the fountains, the city said.

City and airport officials “are working collaboratively to investigate all potential causes, including passenger activities before arriving at the airport. Based on our expertise, water borne illnesses generally have a longer incubation period than what we saw in this instance.”

“Also, Cleveland Water has no known water safety issues in the vicinity of CLE, but is collecting additional street-level samples to verify.”

More than 11,000 passengers traveled through the Cleveland airport on Tuesday and no other travelers reported similar illnesses, the city said.

In a statement, Frontier Airlines said the ill passengers were evaluated by medical staff before being released.

“The cause of the illness remains under investigation. Passenger safety is Frontier’s number one priority,” the airline said Tuesday.

The rest of the passengers had to wait at least an hour and a half aboard the plane in Tampa before they were allowed off the aircraft, Scherberger said.

Sandra Palomino, who was traveling on Flight 1397 but was not sick, said passengers were asked to monitor their health for the next few days.

About 266 passengers were onboard during the incident, Scherberger said.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly quoted an airport spokeswoman. It is not clear whether any of the sickened passengers drank from airport fountains.

CNN’s Chuck Johnston and Gisela Crespo contributed to this report.