Background. On 6 March 2020, a big fire in a village forced the firefighters to draw
water simultaneously from many sources, including the Adige river. From 9 March, an
increasing number of inhabitants reported gastrointestinal symptoms. We describe the
outbreak and the challenges linked to the concurrent COVID-19 spread.
Methods. Residents with enteric symptoms and their relatives were interviewed and
samples from some of the patients and public water pipelines were tested for enteric
pathogens with microbiological and molecular methods.
Results. By 20 March, 182 people reported symptoms and 131 met the case definition.
Norovirus GI/GII and other pathogens were found in human and water samples.
Conclusions. Contamination of the public water network with sewage-contaminated
river water through the firefighters pressurized water tank was the suspected source of
the outbreak. The investigation was partly hampered due to the SARS-CoV-2 emergency.
Control measures included avoiding tap water, alternative water supplies and chlorination
of public water.