January 22, 2018

Durand High School Campylobacter Outbreak Case Count at 22

The Campylobacter outbreak at Durand High School in Pepin County, Wisconsin has now sickened 22 people as of Tuesday, September 30, 2014; all are members of the football team. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene have confirmed that the outbreak was caused by Campylobacter bacteria.

Campylobacter in a petri dishCampylobacter bacteria has been found in specimens from ill patients. The Pepin County Health Department is working with the DHS and the Durand School District to investigate the outbreak. Public health officials are working to compile a list of food and beverages consumed by ill persons days before they got sick.

Campylobacter has a two- to ten-day incubation period. The first symptoms of the illness are muscle pain, headache, and fever, followed by abdominal pain, nausea, and watery and/or bloody diarrhea. Complications of a Campylobacter infection can be serious, including Guillain-Barrè syndrome, meningitis, arthritis, gall bladder inflammation, and severe dehydration.

A final report on the outbreak will be issued later this month by the Health Department. People began reporting illnesses and samples were collected starting September 22, 2014. There was a football team event held on September 18, 2014.

The school has been disinfecting and cleaning the school since the outbreak began. More than 100 students were sick while the outbreak was at its peak.

Campylobacter bacteria are spread through the fecal-oral route, for instance, if someone who is ill doesn’t wash their hands thoroughly, then prepares food or touches objects. Chicken is often contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria; nearly half of all chicken sold in the U.S. is contaminated. Untreated water and raw milk can also carry the bacteria.

To prevent the spread of this illness, any person who has diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, or other symptoms should stay home from school and work. Follow good hand washing and other hygienic practices. Never prepare food or drink for someone else when you are sick. If you have been sick, stay home until you are free from symptoms for 24 hours. Always cook chicken to 165°F, never consume raw milk or other dairy products, and avoid cross-contamination between raw poultry and other foods. For questions and more information, call the Pepin County Health Department at 715-672-5961.

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