Stomach Illness at Campus Östersund | 2010 |

But what is happening? One by one, the people at Campus Östersund fall victim to a stomach illness. And soon it turns out that the whole town has been infected. Cryptosporidium has invaded Östersund.

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The news spread like wildfire through Swedish media. Östersund had been infected by the largest outbreak of Cryptosporidium in Europe so far – there was a parasite in our drinking water. Up to 30,000 people fell ill and for three months, everyone in the municipality had to boil their tap water.

The media wrote page after page about the number of people who had fallen ill, the costs to society and the municipality’s search for “the culprit”. But how did the inhabitants of the town experience the “crisis”? That is what the sociologists Erika Wall and Linda Kvarnlöf wanted to find out. A week after the decree to boil the tap water, they started a study of the inhabitants’ reaction to the Cryptosporidium outbreak – and the results were surprising.

– Most people did not actually think that it was all that bad. Boiling the water became a natural part of their new everyday life to which they simply adapted, says Erika.

A year after the outbreak, Erika conducted another study, where the focus was on to what extent the inhabitants felt that they had taken responsibility during the Cryptosporidium outbreak. The study yielded a similar result; most people felt that they had not had to take any particular responsibility, but rather that they had done what was necessary to manage their everyday lives.

– Many people were also able to put the situation in Östersund in relation to the rest of the world and the fact that there are many countries where people always have to boil the water or have no access to water at all. It made the “crisis” here at home seem less dramatic, Erika concludes.