August 19, 2022

Montana Campylobacter Outbreak Linked to Kennedy Creek Water

A Montana Campylobacter outbreak is linked to the Kennedy Creek watering point, according to Sanders County Environmental Health. About 20 people have been confirmed with this illness in an outbreak that occurred in mid May 2022. Eighteen of those patients consumed water from the Kennedy Creek watering point over a period of about two to three weeks during late April and early May 2022.

Montana Campylobacter Outbreak Linked to Kennedy Creek Water

Thirteen of those patients have seen a healthcare provider; all tested positive for Campylobacter. One linked case was also reported in Flathead County.

A water sample was taken from the creek’s discharge point, and it tested positive for Campylobacter.¬†As of Friday, June 3, 2022, the state laboratory has matched clinical and water sample specimens through whole genome sequencing.

Kennedy Creek watering point is not a spring. It is located about one mile south of Paradise, within the Montana Department of Transportation highway right-of-way on railroad property. It has been used by the public as a drinking water source for many decades. There are no restrictions on the use of this water, even though the Montana Department of Transportation has posted signs saying the water is not potable.

The creek flows both above and below ground from its source to the river. Flow is variable throughout the year. The collection point is a PVC pipe that is in the bottom of an open creek channel. Public health officials advice against consuming water from this watering point. Because this watering point is above ground, it is vulnerable to contamination from animals and insects.

Campylobacter is the most common bacterial cause of diarrhea in the United States. Symptoms of a Campylobacter infection include diarrhea that is often bloody, fever, and stomach cramps, along with nausea and vomiting. Symptoms usually start two to five days after exposure to the pathogen. Most people are sick for about one week.

Campylobacter has several serious complications, including Guillain Barre syndrome, which can lead to paralysis. The most common causes of Campylobacter infection include raw milk, poultry, and untreated water.

If you or anyone you know has consumed water from the Kennedy Creek watering point in Montana, and has been ill with the symptoms of campylobacteriosis, see your doctor. You may be part of this Montana Campylobacter outbreak.

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