The New Jersey Herald is reporting that the Warren County Health Department confirmed about 30 people at Blair Academy have been sickened with Campylobacter infections. This is a private boarding and day high school located in Blairstown. Illnesses have been reported since mid-November, 2015. Nearly all of the cases have “resolved” within days, according to the story.
Susan Logan, spokeswoman for Blair Academy, emailed parents about this outbreak. Her statement said “In November, our health center saw an increased incidence of gastrointestinal-related illnesses and alerted all parents by email on November 20 prior to students leaving campus for Thanksgiving break. Late that weekend, we found out that several of those who experienced symptoms tested positive for Campylobacter.Upon receiving confirmation of several positive results, our director of health services informed the parents of those affected by phone and updated our entire parent body by email the next day.” The source of the bacteria has not been identified.
Campylobacter bacteria usually sickens people through undercooked poultry or meat or through cross-contamination in the kitchen. The illness can be spread person-to-person, but is usually spread through contaminated food. Almost half of all chicken sold in this country contains this bacteria. And only about 500 bacteria can cause illness; this amount would fit in one drop of raw chicken juice.
While the illness is usually mild, in some cases patients can develop Guillain-Barre syndrome after this infection, which can lead to paralysis and death. The symptoms of a Campylobacter infection include muscle pain, headache, fever, watery or bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea.
The complications of this infection can include arthritis, blood poisoning, hemolytic uremic syndrome, respiratory distress, gall bladder inflammation, and severe dehydration. Symptoms usually appear one to ten days after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria.