January 16, 2018

Campylobacter Outbreak in Durand, Wisconsin Schools

The Pepin County Health Department says there are eight confirmed cases of Campylobacter infections in students at Durand High School in Pepin County, Wisconsin. The investigation is ongoing, with results still pending for other students. More than 50 other students are sick with flu-like symptoms. In the past five years, there have only been 15 cases total of Campylobacteriosis reported in Pepin County.

Campylobacter in a petri dishCampylobacter is a bacteria that can cause serious illness. People become infected by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with fecal matter from an animal or a person who is sick.

The symptoms of a Campylobacter infection include muscle pain, headache, and fever, followed by watery and/or bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. The first symptoms usually appear 2-5 days after infection. Most people recover in a week to 10 days, but some can become seriously ill or relapse. Serious complications of this infection can include arthritis, meningitis, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), Guillain-Barrè syndrome (GBS), and gall bladder inflammation. Treatment is a round of antibiotics for severe cases.

To prevent the spread of illness caused by bacteria such as Campylobacter, anyone with diarrhea should stay home from school and work until symptoms have completely disappeared for 24 hours.  Always wash your hands after using the bathroom and changing diapers, and before eating or preparing food. Always treat raw meats as if they were contaminated and avoid cross-contamination with other foods. Cook food to a safe internal temperature, avoid consuming raw milk, raw dairy products, undercooked eggs and meat, and unpasteurized apple juice.

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