Fourteen waterborne epidemics occurred in Finland during 1998-1999. About 7,300 illness cases were registered in these outbreaks. All except one of the waterborne epidemics were associated with undisinfected groundwaters. An equal number of waterborne epidemics occurred in public and private water systems, but most cases of illness occurred in public water systems. The three largest epidemics comprised 6,700 illness cases. Insufficient purification treatment unable to remove Norwalk-like viruses caused the only waterborne epidemic in a surface water plant. The main reasons for groundwater outbreaks were floods and surface runoffs which contaminated water. Norwalk-like viruses caused eight and Campylobacter three of the outbreaks. In two cases the epidemic ceased by the exhaustion of susceptible persons in the exposed community but in most cases it was terminated by changing the water source, boiling the drinking water, and starting chlorination.

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