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Raw Milk – with Campylobacter – Strikes Again – 22 Sick – 8 Hospitalized

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene (WSLH), the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Pepin County Health Department have been working on an investigation into an outbreak of illnesses that affected some members of the football team and coaching staff at the Durand Jr/Sr High School who attended a team dinner on September 18th, 2014. Testing performed at the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene and area labs and clinics confirmed that the outbreak was caused by Campylobactor jejuni bacteria.

As part of the investigation, DHS interviewed all of the football team members (ill and well) and coaching staff to assess illnesses and ask questions about things they may have been exposed to (activities, foods, water sources, etc.) in the days before becoming ill. In a comparison of the interview responses from ill and well team members, consumption of raw milk was the only food item associated with illness.

At the request of DHS, DATCP staff collected cow manure specimens. Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene test results (genetic fingerprinting) show that the bacteria that caused diarrheal illness among individuals who drank the unpasteurized (raw) milk at the potluck was the same bacteria strain found on the farm that supplied the raw milk.

Campylobacter jejuni bacteria can cause diarrhea, which can be bloody, abdominal cramping, fever, nausea and vomiting. Campylobacter can be transmitted by consuming food contaminated directly or indirectly by animal feces or handled by someone with the infection who has not adequately washed hands after using the bathroom.