A public aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is facing a public liability lawsuit after a child visiting the facility contracted something known as ‘fish-handlers disease’.
The boy is believed to have been infected with the bacteria known as Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae after petting stingrays and sharks in the touch pool of the aquarium. His parents say that his symptoms started to appear around six days after his visit, and that he suffered extreme paid in his hand as a result of the infection.
Following treatment at two hospitals and numerous surgical procedures, the boy’s parents have decided to file a $2.4 million lawsuit against the owners of the Tennessee Aquarium. They believe the aquarium is liable because visitors were encouraged to participate in the open exhibit and touch the animals. They also assert that staff at the aquarium knew the animals carried the bacteria but they failed to warn visitors of this fact.
The aquarium, which is likely to have public liability insurance in place for cases such as this, denies that there was bacteria in the water. A statement was released, saying:
“To our knowledge, no aquarium staff, volunteers or any of the nearly 19 million visitors have ever developed this bacterial infection.”