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Canadian Mountain Bikers Hit by Bacterial Infection

A healthy sport has turned out to be a health nightmare of sorts for some Canadians.

Within 48 hours of finishing a grueling five-hour 67-km ride, Canadian mountain biker Monica Anderson woke up in the middle of the night, feverish and vomiting. The Coquitlam teacher was so sick her husband had to rush her to hospital.

She admitted she had swallowed a few mouthfuls of the muddy, puddle-ridden course along the way.

"I didn't know what it was," said Anderson, 28. "It was the sickest I've ever been in my life. It was everything -- all bodily functions."

She was infected with campylobacter, a bacteria, and wasn't the only racer who got sick.

Online mountain bike forums like NSMB.com began buzzing with participants reporting similar symptoms.

"I may as well have lived on the toilet the last three days," posted Spaz. "Not sure what hit me (felt like a truck)," posted Shorelocal.

The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority says 18 participants or spectators at the Test of Metal mountain bike race June 16 have confirmed cases of campylobacter. Symptoms last up to seven days and include diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, fever, and vomiting.

"All of the people who've been sick were either riders or spectators; no one from the community or surrounding area has reported symptoms," medical health officer Dr. Paul Martiquet said in a news release.

Cliff Miller, the event organizer for the past 14 years, said this is the first time anything like this has happened. Coincidentally, he said, this year's wet and rainy race day conditions were the worst he's seen.

Despite everything, it was a great time, he said.

"I think everybody had fun until they got home."

He's working with Vancouver Coastal Health and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control to try to figure out what exactly caused people to get sick. There's been a lot of rumours circulating, he said.
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