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Gaceta Sanitaria

versión impresa ISSN 0213-9111


GODOY, P. et al. Waterborne outbreak of gastroenteritis transmitted through the public water supply. Gac Sanit [online]. 2003, vol.17, n.3, pp.204-209. ISSN 0213-9111.

Introduction: The chlorination of public water supplies has led researchers to largely discard drinking water as a potential source of gastroenteritis outbreaks. The aim of this study was to investigate an outbreak of waterborne disease associated with drinking water from public supplies. Methods: A historical cohort study was carried out following notification of a gastroenteritis outbreak in Baqueira (Valle de Arán, Spain). We used systematic sampling to select 87 individuals staying at hotels and 67 staying in apartments in the target area. Information was gathered on four factors (consumption of water from the public water supply, sandwiches, water and food in the ski resorts) as well as on symptoms. We assessed residual chlorine in drinking water, analyzed samples of drinking water, and studied stool cultures from 4 patients. The risk associated with each water source and food type was assessed by means of relative risk (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Results: The overall attack rate was 51.0% (76/149). The main symptoms were diarrhea 87.5%, abdominal pain 80.0%, nausea 50.7%, vomiting 30.3%, and fever 27.0%. The only factor associated with a statistically significant risk of disease was consumption of drinking water (RR = 11.0; 95% CI, 1.6-74.7). No residual chlorine was detected in the drinking water, which was judged acceptable. A problem associated with the location of the chlorinator was observed and corrected. We also recommended an increase in chlorine levels, which was followed by a reduction in the number of cases. The results of stool cultures of the four patients were negative for enterobacteria. Conclusions: This study highlights the potential importance of waterborne outbreaks of gastroenteritis transmitted through drinking water considered acceptableand suggests the need to improve microbiological research into these outbreaks (viruses and protozoa detection).

Palabras clave : Epidemiology; Outbreak; Waterborne outbreak; Drinking water.

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