Durand School District deals with aftermath of severe illness

Durand, WI (WEAU) -- After a severe illness sends dozens of students home sick, attendance is back to normal today at Durand schools.

More than 100 total students in the district were reported absent last week.With Durand’s football team being hardest hit by the illness.

Right now there are 19 confirmed cases of campylobacter; all are members of the football team.

Campylobacter is a bacterial infection causing diarrhea, stomach pain, and a fever.

Now, Pepin County Health officials are trying to figure out how the spread started and where.

The district and health department say things are looking up. It's homecoming week at the Durand High School and District Administrator, Greg Doverspike says the celebration is well needed after the events of last week.

“I was in the hall this morning before school, and it seemed like some of the kids had smiles back on faces,” says Doverspike. “They're just kind of relieved to return to a normal week.”

After last week’s worries, he says the students' concerns this week are much more light hearted. Doverspike says, “They're worried about dress up days, and decorating halls, and floats, and all the other fun activities that go a long with Homecoming.”

But the investigation into what caused the outbreak of campylobacter within the district is still ongoing.
Heidi Stewart, with the Pepin County Health Department says all 19 confirmed cases of campylobacter have been members of the football team.

“Over 50 interviews have been completed of members of the football team, people around the football team, coaches staff and other people,” says Stewart.

However, Stewart says it does appear the number of kids getting ill is tapering off. "The students who were ill, are feeling better and returning. We're happy to say that things in town and at school seem to be returning to normal," Stewart says.

Now that the worst of the illness seems to be passing, Doverspike says it's time to reflect on what happened. He says, “Probably the next phase is to evaluate what happened, and how we move forward as a school district.”

Stewart and Doverspike say they'll be meeting to discuss how incidents like this can be prevented in the future.

Doverspike says, “We're just hoping that now, as a community we can move forward, ry to figure out what we need to do differently in the future, move forward as a community and make sure something like this doesn't happen again.”

Doverspike says the district is keeping tabs on the football team. Friday's game is on, for now, it will make a decision on that later this week.

Stewart says other districts shouldn't worry about their players contracting the illness, because it is very hard to spread.

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