Dozens of hikers recently reported feeling ill after visiting popular waterfalls near the Grand Canyon in Arizona. One hiker, Madelyn Melchiors, a 32-year-old veterinarian, experienced severe vomiting and a long-lasting fever after camping on the Havasupai reservation. Despite her weakened state, she managed to hike out with the help of a mule carrying her pack part of the way.

The federal Indian Health Service (IHS) is actively investigating the outbreak of illness, with environmental health officers dispatched to the area to determine the source and prevent further spread. The IHS is providing medical attention to those affected, prioritizing the health and well-being of both residents and visitors.

While camping, Melchiors drank water from a spring that is considered safe to drink, as well as from other filtered sources. She took precautions such as using hand sanitizer regularly, but still fell ill. Coconino county health officials advise hikers to be vigilant for symptoms of norovirus, especially on camping trips where clean water and hand washing facilities may be limited.

The Havasupai reservation, home to stunning waterfalls, is a popular tourist destination accessible only by foot, helicopter, or horseback. Thousands of tourists visit each year to enjoy the natural beauty, providing a vital source of revenue for the Havasupai tribe. However, recent reports of illness and littering on the trails have raised concerns among visitors.

The tribe’s tourism office has tested the water from a local spring and confirmed it safe for drinking, but some hikers have chosen to leave the area by helicopter due to illness. Social media posts from affected individuals highlight the challenges faced by those who fell sick after their trips.

As investigations continue and health officials work to contain the outbreak, hikers are advised to take extra precautions when visiting the area. Proper hygiene practices, water filtration, and early symptom monitoring can help prevent the spread of illnesses like norovirus. Despite the challenges faced by recent visitors, the natural beauty of the Havasupai reservation remains a draw for outdoor enthusiasts and tourists alike.