October 2, 2023

Montana Raw Water Campylobacter Outbreak Linked to Bird’s Nest

A Montana raw water Campylobacter outbreak in 2022 has been linked to a bird’s nest in a concrete cache from Kennedy Creek, according to ARS Technica. Nineteen people were sickened in that outbreak, and one person was hospitalized.

Montana Raw Water Campylobacter Outbreak Linked to Bird's Nest

The water was untreated, taken from a concrete box that siphoned off water from the creek located near Paradise, Montana. Officials believe that the box was build in the early 1900s to stop erosion from a railroad track bed.

Officials found an empty bird’s nest inside the box, which was the likely source of the pathogen. Campylobacter was found in the water. Whole genome sequencing showed that the bacteria in the water was a match to isolates from patients sickened in this outbreak.

The box was posted saying that the water was not safe to drink. The Montana Department of Transportation permanently cut off the water source on June 28, 2022 by rerouting the creek water so it stayed underground. No other cases have been found since.

Montana health officials said in a statement, “Persons drinking water from outdoor sources, including creeks, rivers, and streams, should always treat the water before drinking it. Boiling water is the most reliable way to kill germs, but treatment including filtration will also reduce the risk of illness from drinking water from outdoor sources.”

In other words, “raw water,” like “raw milk,” is not safe to drink. Just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it is safe. Raw water does not contain natural minerals and probiotics that can improve your health.

 

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