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A Camp(y) Fire Tale

Image of Campylobacter on Petri

Around the 4th of July 2010, near West Yellowstone, Montana, people were reporting to clinics and emergency departments with symptoms of acute gastroenteritis. Almost 100 people had come down with illness caused by a very common gastrointestinal germ, Campylobacter jejuni, before the last case was reported on July 28. In a little over 3 weeks, close to 10 Montana state agencies, including the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, and multiple laboratories at CDC worked feverishly to find and stop the outbreak. They traced it back to a well used by the café at the Campfire Lodge Resort, located outside West Yellowstone. The café was closed and the owners drilled a new well.

The collaboration of multiple state agencies working hand-in-hand with CDC laboratories helped quickly isolate and contain the outbreak. Multiple CDC laboratories made it possible to recover and identify organisms from water, match stool specimens and water samples, and confirm for Montana state health officials that the measures they took to supply safer water were successful.

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