Viral outbreak linked to Lenawee County ‘Tough Mudder’ event - WSFX - FOX Wilmington, NC

Viral outbreak linked to Lenawee County ‘Tough Mudder’ event

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BROOKLYN, MI (Toledo News Now) -

A Lenawee County athletic event has been blamed for a norovirus outbreak.

Michigan Department of Community Health and the Lenawee County Health Department on Wednesday released findings of an investigation into the "Tough Mudder" event which took place in Brooklyn, Michigan on June 29 and 30.

"Tough Mudder" is a 10 to 12 mile course involving obstacles such as rope walls and mud pits. Participants frequently run or crawl through mud and muddy water.

The Health Department says they received many reports of gastrointestinal illnesses from people who participated in the event. After testing, the department determined the illnesses were caused by norovirus. Symptoms of norovirus include stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says norovirus is "very contagious."

"It's unusual to happen in an outdoor event like this where the participants are only together for a short period of time, but this shows it does happen," said Patsy Bourgeois, a registered nurse.

The Michigan Department of Community Health believes most of the infections occurred on the course, likely due to mud or muddy water in the mouth of participants. The department believes an infected person passed through a mud pit on the course early in the weekend, subsequently infecting those who passed through after.

Josh Galati, of Toledo, is training for the Zombie Race on September 29 in Springfield Township. That will have mud, as well as the Toledo Survival Race on the same course September 28.

"When it comes to the mud and everything, I am going to try to do everything I can to keep it out of my nose and my mouth and my face as much as possible, so I lower my risk of getting sick," Galati said.

The Health Department says it is working with the Tough Mudder organization to prevent a similar outbreak in the future. They say mud race participants should stay home if they have norovirus symptoms.

"You've been training really hard for it...all that training and all the money you spend to get ready and participate, you don't want to let that go," said Susie Dice, from the Lenawee County Health Department. "On the other hand, you have to take care of yourself and also take care of people around you."

Dice says she doesn't think healthy runners should be scared away from the fun.

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