Adventure racing games like Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash, are famous for incorporating obstacles into a long distance trek, but participants probably don’t want any part of the newest challenge: bloody diarrhea.
Each year, more than 1.5 million people take part in these games that often involve crawling through mud, climbing walls, and wading through stagnant water. What they don’t expect in the process is to swallow muddy water contaminated by animal feces.
Unfortunately, there have been at least 22 to suffer the same result — fever, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea, shortly after participating in one of the above mentioned events.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these races have caused some to come down with a case of campylobacter coli, a common bacteria generally responsible for weeklong squirts, cramping, fever, and abdominal pain.
Washington Post adds:
“Usually, that bacteria gets into people who eat raw or undercooked poultry. [Ed.: As it did here.] But public health officials reported in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that they found a ‘statistically significant association’ between accidentally swallowing muddy water during the race and the four confirmed and 18 suspected cases of infection. They think the water was laced with cattle or swine feces.”
The CDC emphasized a word of warning to military personnel, since events like Tough Mudder are often marketed to men and women serving their country. As a means of public action, the organization enlisted Nellis Public Health to provide educational outreach to military personnel in the affected areas.
That outreach emphasized “the importance of hand washing and avoidance of exposure (especially ingestion) to contaminated surface water to prevent disease.”
“This investigation also highlighted the importance of outbreak investigators continuing stool specimen collection, culture, and serial testing, even after initial results are negative,” the CDC report added.
Whether military or non-military, if you’re competing in Tough Mudder or any of the other popular events, it’s recommended that you pay especially close attention to the amount of interaction you have with other participants.
Since we’re talking about microorganisms here, adventure racing will never be without risk when it comes to happening upon nasty bacteria, but you can keep your mouth closed and avoid deep breaths and talking to other competitors, especially when hitting the risky areas.
Unless you just enjoy bloody diarrhea, then we say full steam ahead.
Have you ever participated in adventure racing? If so, did you notice any digestive issues following the race?
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]