As of Thursday, the Campylobacter outbreak case count in Wisconsin’s Durand School District was at 22, those sickened who had been hospitalized had been released, and “kids were starting to feel better,” according to the local county health officer. Pepin County Health Officer Heidi Stewart said that all of those sickened were associated with the Durand High School football team, although not all were players. “Most individuals have returned to normal activities. We monitored the illnesses and the absences very closely, and it didn’t appear to be spreading beyond the football team,” she said, adding that the investigation has moved quickly. “They got a really quick jump on this,” Stewart said. “Samples started being collected Sept. 22. Parents were calling saying kids are sick, and samples were taken starting that night.” The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is managing the investigation into the illnesses, and Stewart said the state’s epidemiological team had narrowed down to a list all the possible food and beverages which those sickened may have consumed over several days before the reports of illness began coming in. “I know that they have interviewed at least 50 individuals associated with the football team, both ill and well, and they are working hard to pinpoint a possible source,” Stewart said. She noted that an epidemiological assessment would soon be completed. Justin Kohl, team coordinator and epidemiologist for the state’s Bureau of Communicable Diseases and Emergency Response, said the focus wasn’t on any one day’s worth of food and beverages those sickened may have consumed, although there had apparently been a special team function held on Sept. 18. “Campy has an average seven-day incubation period, actually two to five days, so we were focusing in on several days and things they may have done in common. It’s definitely more exhaustive than a single day. It’s a group of people who share a lot of things over several days,” he said. The department plans to have a final report available in the near future, including laboratory results and detailing the steps taken during the epidemiological investigation, Kohl said, although he added that sometimes such reports can take weeks or even months. “When there’s a request, and this is a sensitive issue with a lot of interest in the community, we hope to get that done sooner,” he said. Meanwhile, the Durand School District has been cleaning and disinfecting the school buildings, buses and grounds, and at least one football game had to be postponed because so many players were out sick. News reports stated that more than 100 students had been absent during the height of the outbreak, although the high school and middle school remained open. Durand School Superintendent Greg Doverspike was quoted as saying that this week, which is homecoming week, would provide a much-needed celebration. “I was in the hall this morning before school, and it seemed like some of the kids had smiles back on faces,” he said Monday. “They’re just kind of relieved to return to a normal week.” Stewart noted that this is the second Pepin County outbreak in her experience limited to a specific group of people, namely a sporting team. However, the previous outbreak a couple years ago ended up being linked to a bacterial toxin, with the source eventually determined to be chicken. “That one was much simpler than this one,” she said. “A toxin can’t be spread from person to person.” Campylobacter is a bacteria which causes gastrointestinal symptom including diarrhea (possibly bloody), cramping and fever within two to five days of exposure. Symptoms typically last about a week, although some of those infected do not exhibit symptoms. Confirmed Campylobacter cases are usually associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry or meat or from cross-contamination of other foods by these items. Other exposures can come from unpasteurized dairy products – raw milk – and contaminated water, produce or animals. Exposure is also possible from person-to-person, although that is less common.