After heavy rains Campylobacter jejuni together with high counts of Escherichia coli, other coliforms and intestinal enterococci were detected from drinking water of a municipal distribution system in eastern Finland in August 2004. Three patients with a positive C. jejuni finding, who had drunk the contaminated water, were identified and interviewed. The pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) genotypes from the patient samples were identical to some of the genotypes isolated from the water of the suspected contamination source. In addition, repetitive DNA element analysis (rep-PCR) revealed identical patterns of E. coli and other coliform isolates along the distribution line. Further on-site technical investigations revealed that one of the two rainwater gutters on the roof of the water storage tower had been in an incorrect position and rainwater had flushed a large amount of faecal material from wild birds into the drinking water. The findings required close co-operation between civil authorities, and application of cultivation and genotyping techniques strongly suggested that the municipal drinking water was the source of the infections. The faecal contamination associated with failures in cleaning and technical management stress the importance of instructions for waterworks personnel to perform maintenance work properly.

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