Muddy water in obstacle courses can make you sick

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Muddy water in obstacle courses can make you sick
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Competitors crawl in mud to avoid being electrocuted by dangling electric wires while challenging in Tough Mudder endurance race in Henley-on-Thames, England on 27 April, 2014. Competitors run a 19km course, designed by British Special Forces to test competitors' strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie with mud and obstacles that play on common human fears, such as fire, water, electricity and heights. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Competitors challenge in Tough Mudder endurance race in Henley-on-Thames, England on 27 April, 2014. Competitors run a 19km course, designed by British Special Forces to test competitors' strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie with mud and obstacles that play on common human fears, such as fire, water, electricity and heights. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Competitors crawl in mud to avoid being electrocuted by dangling electric wires while challenging in Tough Mudder endurance race in Henley-on-Thames, England on 27 April, 2014. Competitors run a 19km course, designed by British Special Forces to test competitors' strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie with mud and obstacles that play on common human fears, such as fire, water, electricity and heights. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Competitors challenge in Tough Mudder endurance race in Henley-on-Thames, England on 27 April, 2014. Competitors run a 19km course, designed by British Special Forces to test competitors' strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie with mud and obstacles that play on common human fears, such as fire, water, electricity and heights. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Competitors crawl in mud to avoid being electrocuted by dangling electric wires while challenging in Tough Mudder endurance race in Henley-on-Thames, England on 27 April, 2014. Competitors run a 19km course, designed by British Special Forces to test competitors' strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie with mud and obstacles that play on common human fears, such as fire, water, electricity and heights. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Competitors crawl in a cage filled with muddy water while challenging in Tough Mudder endurance race in Henley-on-Thames, England on 27 April, 2014. Competitors run a 19km course, designed by British Special Forces to test competitors' strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie with mud and obstacles that play on common human fears, such as fire, water, electricity and heights. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Competitors challenge in Tough Mudder endurance race in Henley-on-Thames, England on 27 April, 2014. Competitors run a 19km course, designed by British Special Forces to test competitors' strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie with mud and obstacles that play on common human fears, such as fire, water, electricity and heights. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: A competitor crawls through mud during Toughmudder at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on March 23, 2014 in Phillip Island, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: A competitor crawls through mud during Toughmudder at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on March 23, 2014 in Phillip Island, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: A competitor crawls through mud during Toughmudder at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on March 23, 2014 in Phillip Island, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: A competitor crawls through mud during Toughmudder at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on March 23, 2014 in Phillip Island, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: A competitor wipes mud from his eyes during Toughmudder at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on March 22, 2014 in Phillip Island, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: A competitor crawls through mud during Toughmudder at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on March 22, 2014 in Phillip Island, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: A competitor falls into muddy water during Toughmudder at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on March 22, 2014 in Phillip Island, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: A competitor climbs up a rope net during Toughmudder at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on March 22, 2014 in Phillip Island, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: A competitor falls into muddy water during Toughmudder at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on March 22, 2014 in Phillip Island, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: A competitor crawls through mud during Toughmudder at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on March 22, 2014 in Phillip Island, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: Mud drips off a competitor's face during Toughmudder at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on March 22, 2014 in Phillip Island, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
SENECA, IL - MAY 18: Competitors walk/climb 'Everest' and then jump into the muddy waters during a Tough Mudder event held at the Seneca Hunt Club on May 18, 2013. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
SENECA, IL - MAY 18: Competitors go through the 'Electric Eel,' where dangling wires give off electronic shocks during a Tough Mudder event held at the Seneca Hunt Club on May 18, 2013. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
CHESHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 18: A participant during the Tough Mudder endurance challenge at Cholmondeley Castle on November 18, 2012 in Malpas, United Kingdom. The 10-12 mile obstacle endurance course will this year be raising funds for Help for Heroes. (Photo by Shirlaine Forrest/Getty Images)
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By MICHELLE RINDELS
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- It turns out the toughest obstacle of a Tough Mudder-style race might not be dodging live electrical wires, hoisting logs or leaping over a wall of flames. It might be the nasty stomach bug that can come from swallowing the muddy water.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a memo Friday warning that animal feces in the mud along the courses can give participants a bad case of diarrhea. The agency said nearly two dozen people from the Nellis Air Force Base community in Nevada reported coming down sick after participating in a race in rural Beatty, Nevada, in October 2012.

The investigation traced the sickness to the bacteria campylobacter coli. It concluded people became ill after accidentally swallowing contaminated water on the course, which was on a cattle ranch within sight of cows and pigs. The sickness generally sets in three days after the race, and it lasts a week.

Adventure races are increasingly popular in the U.S., where they drew about 1.5 million participants in 2012, according to the CDC memo. In the 10- to 12-mile-long Tough Mudder challenges, participants slither on their bellies through fields of mud, plunge into icy water and try to cross lakes while balancing on slippery tightropes.

The contests often draw active-duty military personnel or civilians in top shape. But the CDC said those daredevils can be brought to their knees by the stomach bug, which lurks in the animal droppings on the man-made mud fields.

Health officials recommend race organizers warn participants about the gastrointestinal dangers of the contest, and stress the importance of hand-washing and avoiding swallowing the water. They also recommend race organizers set up the courses in areas where animals are less likely to roam.

Officials with Tough Mudder didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment Friday morning, and it was unclear whether the organization planned to change any policies in response to the CDC's findings.

The CDC noted the bacteria causing sickness after races has hit sports events in the past. Campylobacter outbreaks after several bicycle races in Europe were traced to bike tires splashing up dirty water into participants' mouths.

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