The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene have confirmed that the outbreak of gastrointestinal illness occurring in Pepin County, Wisconsin, was caused by Campylobacter, according to the Durand School District in Pepin County.

Campylobacter image/CDC
Campylobacter image/CDC

To date, Campylobacter has been detected in specimens from 9 ill individuals. Not all of the ill individuals were tested.  Dozens more were ill, including members of the high school’s football team and several coaches and managers.

The Pepin County Health Department continues to work with the DHS and the Durand School District in efforts to prevent and control infections and to investigate the source of the outbreak.

As a reminder, any person ill with diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever or other gastrointestinal symptoms should remain home from school and follow good hand washing and other hygienic practices to prevent the spread of the bacteria to other people. The DHS has recommended that students and staff may return to school when they have been symptom free for 24 hours.  Students or parents of students who are ill are encouraged to consult their local health provider regarding treatment options.

The Durand School District continues to follow the cleaning guidelines recommended by the DHS to ensure all school buildings, buses, and grounds are safe for all parties involved.  Students and staff are reminded that good hand washing and hygienic practices are effective in preventing the spread of illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Campylobacteriosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria of the genus Campylobacter. Most people who become ill with campylobacteriosis get diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within two to five days after exposure to the organism. The diarrhea may be bloody and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The illness typically lasts about one week. Some infected persons do not have any symptoms. In persons with compromised immune systems, Campylobacter occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a serious life-threatening infection.

Most cases of campylobacteriosis are associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry meat or from cross-contamination of other foods by these items. Outbreaks of Campylobacter have most often been associated with unpasteurized dairy products, contaminated water, poultry, and produce. Animals can also be infected, and some people get infected from contact with the stool of an ill dog or cat. The organism is not usually spread from one person to another, but this can happen if the infected person is producing a large volume of diarrhea.

It only takes a very few Campylobacter organisms (fewer than 500) to make a person sick. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page