May 03, 2014 7:49 AM GMT
I'm sure this is old news to guys in the military that have had the joys of maneuvering through questionable waterways or low crawl through some ripe smelling mud.
Another Solid Reason Not to Do a Mud-Obstacle Run
Endurance races that involve electrical shocks, ice baths, and pools of stagnant farm water are acutely popular. No one tells you about the bowel infections.
JAMES HAMBLINMAY 2 2014, 2:35 PM ET
On October 12, 2012, public health officials at Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas, got an unsettling call. Their medical center’s emergency department reported that in the last three days, three active-duty military had come in with vomiting and bloody diarrhea. All said they had recently fallen face-first in mud, during a Tough Mudder obstacle-course event on a nearby cattle ranch in the town of Beatty the week prior.
In response to these three cases, Nellis Public Health mobilized local and state officials in an investigation, the results of which were released yesterday by the CDC. The team ultimately identified 22 similar cases tied to that October 2012 Mudder, most likely caused by infection with the fecally transmitted bacterium Campylobacter coli.
As the CDC reported there was a statistically significant association with "inadvertent swallowing of muddy water while competing" and Campylobacter infection. The investigators found no association with drinking water or eating food provided by event organizers. Participants did report seeing cattle and swine on or near the course on the day of the run.
"These events typically are held in rural areas and often include man-made slurry fields (a mixture of soil or clay and water) as race 'challenges,'" the CDC offers. "In areas commonly frequented by animals, topsoil used in the creation of slurry fields can be contaminated with feces from domestic fowl, ruminants, or wild animals. Competitors who run or ride through such areas might unintentionally swallow sufficient numbers of organisms to cause clinical disease."
The CDC also says doctors and public health professionals “should be aware that obstacle adventure race events could pose a heightened risk for outbreaks.”
Nellis Public Health followed up by doing some educational outreach regarding the risk for disease when competing in such events, emphasizing hand washing and avoidance of ingestion of surface water and mud.
"Participants also need to be encouraged to seek appropriate medical care for post-competition diarrhea," the CDC advises, "especially bloody diarrhea, and to inform medical personnel of their exposure." Apart from that, don't overthink it.