In August 1998, an outbreak of campylobacteriosis occurred in one municipality in northern Finland. A 10% random sample of residents (population 15000) was selected through the National Population Registry for a survey conducted by using postal questionnaires. Cases were defined as residents of the municipality with onset of acute gastroenteritis from 1 to 20 August 1998. Of 1167 respondents (response rate 78%), 218 (18·7%) met the case definition. Drinking non-chlorinated municipal tap water was strongly associated with illness (OR 34·4). The estimated total number of ill persons was 2700. Campylobacter jejuni was isolated from stool samples of 45 (61%) out of 74 patients tested. All five isolates tested had indistinguishable PFGE patterns. Water samples were negative for campylobacter and coliforms. Epidemiological and environmental evidence suggested mains repair as the source of contamination. Non-chlorinated ground-water systems may be susceptible to contamination and can cause large outbreaks.
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