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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 5, 2008

Contact: Greg Wilkinson, (907) 269-7285, Cell (907) 382-7032

gregory.wilkinson@alaska.gov

Ann Potempa, (907) 269-7957, Cell (907) 240-9158

ann.potempa@alaska.gov

 

Outbreak of Campylobacter enteritis in Southcentral Alaska

(Anchorage, AK) – According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Section of Epidemiology, 32 people have been diagnosed with Campylobacter enteritis since July 1, 2008, in Southcentral Alaska. This compares to 15 cases reported from this same region during July and August of 2007. All but one of the 32 people infected were adults. One ill person was admitted to the hospital for observation. None have died.

The Alaska divisions of Public Health and Environmental Health and the Municipality of Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services are investigating these cases to determine if there is a common source responsible for the infections.

Campylobacter bacteria can be found in raw or undercooked fruits, vegetables, poultry and meat; in unprocessed water; and in unpasteurized dairy products. Proper cooking and proper hand-washing techniques are recommended to prevent infection. The bacteria can also be contracted through direct contact with animals, including poultry, cattle, dogs, cats, rodents and birds.

Symptoms of Campylobacter enteritis include diarrhea that is often bloody, abdominal pain, weakness, fever, nausea and vomiting. Onset of the illness occurs two to five days after exposure and symptoms usually continue for up to one week. Prolonged illness and relapses may also occur in adults. Some cases may mimic acute appendicitis or inflammatory bowel disease.

Most persons infected with Campylobacter recover without any specific treatment.

People experiencing these symptoms should drink extra fluids as long as the diarrhea lasts. In more severe cases, antibiotics can be used and can shorten the duration of symptoms if given early in the illness. Diagnosis is made by isolation of the bacteria from the stool of infected patients. Anyone experiencing bloody diarrhea should consult with their health care provider.

The Alaska Section of Epidemiology requests that anyone with bloody diarrhea since Aug. 1, call 1-877-469-8067 to report their illness.

For more information about Campylobacter infection go to: http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/campylobacter_gi.html .