Cryptosporidium in Östersund during the Winter 2010/2011: Consequences and Costs from an Outbreak of a Waterborne Disease


  • Anna Lindberg
  • Jens Lusua
  • Björn Nevhage

Publish date: 2011-12-30

Report number: FOI-R--3376--SE

Pages: 71

Written in: Swedish


  • Cryptosporidium hominis
  • drinking water
  • emergency water
  • outbreak
  • consequences
  • capability
  • economy
  • municipality
  • risk- and vulnerability assessment
  • crisis


During the winter 2010/2011 the Östersund municipality was hit by an outbreak of the waterborne parasite Cryptosporidium hominis. On commission from the National Food Agency, The Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) has explored how municipal operations and elements of industry in Östersund were affected by the unsafe drinking water. The report describes how the waterborne contagion affected these operations. Examples include impacts on workload and tasks, increased costs and sick-leave. Lessons learned are presented along with an analysis of what could have exacerbated the event. In order to give the reader an overview of the course of events, they are presented as they unfolded - from the discovery of the outbreak in November 2010 until the decree to boil water was lifted in February 2011. The study focuses on the local (municipal) level, by limiting the respondents of interviews and surveys to representatives from municipal and private operations. A majority of respondents were affected to some degree by the outbreak. Many experienced an increase in the workload and were forced to reprioritise their work or relinquish certain tasks. Industry was affected to a great extent. The unsafe water is estimated to have caused 27,000 cases of illness. The costs to society are estimated at SEK 220 million, in view of the fact that 45 per cent of the exposed inhabitants fell ill. The overall findings of the report indicate that the assessed operations in Östersund were significantly affected by the outbreak caused by Cryptosporidium in the drinking water and that society, at a local, regional and central level, ought to learn from the event.