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An outbreak of gastroenteritis in a holiday resort in Italy: epidemiological survey, implementation and application of preventive measures

Keywords: Campylobacter , Drinking water , Gastroenteritis , Groundwater , Hygiene , Italy , Norovirus , Resort , Rotavirus , Salmonella , Seaside , Water , Water-borne disease.

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A major gastroenteritis outbreak was reported in a vacation resort in Central Italy in 2003. A total of 183 cases were identified. The case-control study identified a statistically significant correlation between the disease and sea bathing, use of sanitary facilities in bungalows and of common showers. Stool samples taken from people affected were found positive for Norovirus (68%, 13 of 19 samples), Rotavirus (38%, 1 of 14 samples) and Campylobacter (7%, 3 of 8 samples). Environmental investigations revealed serious faecal contamination of the groundwater and the presence of Norovirus in the seawater near the resort. The mixing of groundwater and seawater with the non-drinking water system - which was also found to be connected to the drinking water system - had a primary role in the onset and spread of infection within the village. The complete absence of any gastroenteritis epidemics among the site guests since 2006 demonstrates the effectiveness of the environmental corrective measures taken.


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