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FAQs

COVID-19
How do we determine the infectious period of a positively diagnosed case of COVID-19?

From the CDC: "Infectiousness peaks around one day before symptom onset and declines within a week of symptom onset, with an average period of infectiousness and risk of transmission between 2-3 days before and 8 days after symptom onset." (Source - Key findings from transmission literature)

What is a close contact?

Anyone within 6 feet of a confirmed case (lab-confirmed or clinical diagnosis) for 15 cumulative minutes or more is considered a close contact. (Source - Definitions: Exposure/Close contact)

Is a fully vaccinated person required to quarantine after an exposure?

If you are up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccines OR had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days, you do not need to quarantine. However, you should should wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days from the date of your last close contact with someone with COVID-19 (the date of last close contact is considered day 0).

If you come into close contact with COVID-19, you should quarantine if you are not up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines.

Click here for more information on quarantines and other safety precautions.

What if a person has already had COVID-19, are they required to quarantine after an exposure?

If a person is within 90 days of a confirmed COVID-19 infection and they are asymptomatic, they are not required to quarantine after an exposure.

Can I show proof of a positive antibody test to avoid quarantine?

No. At this time, antibody tests are not accepted as proof of immunity. The only way to avoid quarantine is to show proof of completed vaccination or proof of previous positive COVID-19 test within the past 90 days.

What if a person reports a positive test conducted in the home?

There are several home rapid test kits that can be purchased over the counter. These home tests are not reported to the health department like laboratory tests, and cannot be verified as far as technique nor how they were administered like in a testing facility, and are therefore not included in the daily or overall case numbers in the state of Indiana. Since there is no way to verify the validity of the test, our recommendation is not to accept these as confirmed cases in the school or work environment at this time. If someone does utilize a home test kits and tests positive, our recommendation is to keep the person home and encourage testing at an official testing facility for confirmation. Negative results from home test kits also should not be used to allow someone to return from quarantine early.

What are the current quarantine options?

The date of your exposure is considered day 0. Day 1 is the first full day after your last contact with a person who has had COVID-19. Stay home and away from other people for at least 5 days.

Click here for specific instructions on when to quarantine - including a quarantine calculator - and what to do afterward. Learn why CDC updated guidance for the general public.

As a business or school, what symptoms should we screen for?

Fever (100.4 or higher), chills, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headache and new loss of taste or smell.

Are masks required in schools?

This is not currently a requirement in the state of Indiana nor in Allen County and is a decision made individually by each school board/school. CDC guidelines say wearing a well-fitting mask consistently and correctly reduces the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

Are masks required on school buses?

No, masks are not required on buses or vans operated by public or private K-12 school systems or early care and education/child care (ECE) programs. The CDC recommends wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator over the nose and mouth in indoor areas of transportation (airplanes, trains and buses, for example). (Source - Wearing masks in travel and public transportation settings)

Can employers require their employees or visitors to their buildings to wear masks?

In general, yes. While there is no statewide mask mandate, businesses can likely require masking in the buildings over which they have control. We encourage consultation with a trusted legal adviser as there are many variables and intricacies with which you’d need to comply to make such a requirement.

Click here to learn more about CDC COVID-19 Community Levels, including guidance on when to mask.

Can employers require proof of vaccination? Can employers require their employees to be vaccinated? Can employers limit meeting attendance to only those who are currently vaccinated?

Health departments cannot provide legal guidance on employment matters. We recommend employers discuss and seek advice from a trusted legal professional who knows your business and the applicable laws.

Can vaccinated people become infected with COVID-19?

Yes. No vaccine is 100% effective. However, the vaccines for COVID-19 are very effective at preventing severe infection, hospitalizations and death.

Why is there so much concern about Omicron and other COVID-19 variants?

Viruses often change through mutation, and those mutations sometimes produce new variants. Some emerge and go away, while others stick around.

The Omicron variant and some of its subvariants, like Delta before them, spread more easily than other forms of COVID-19. Infections among people who have been vaccinated are possible, but vaccines remain effective at preventing the most severe outcomes, such as hospitalization and death. There also are effective antibody treatments available to those who are infected. (Source - What you need to know about variants)

Syringe Services Program
What services are offered at the Allen County Syringe Services Program (SSP)?

Used needles can be exchanged for clean needles and other supplies; testing for and education on HIV, Hepatitis C and TB; addiction & mental health services

What does SSP stand for?

Syringe Services Program

When is the SSP open?

The Allen County SSP is typically open Tuesdays from 1-3:30 p.m.

Where is the SSP located?

4817 New Haven Avenue, Fort Wayne, IN 46803

Is there an age limit for those who can receive services?

Only people 18 and older will be allowed to receive services at the SSP.

What is the main goal for the SSP?

The main goal is to prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C in our community by educating on these issues and ensuring use of clean needles and supplies, which is how these viruses are spread.

What if I need services but cannot make it to the SSP during the hours it is open?

Services will be provided only during designated hours and the designated SSP location, though hours may change if the numbers of people served continues to increase.

How many clean needles can I get?

The goal is to provide a 1:1 exchange of used needles for clean needles, but it is possible to receive up to 3 clean needles for each used needle exchanged.

Do I have to bring used needles with me to get clean needles at the SSP?

Only first visits to the SSP will receive clean needles if used needles are not exchanged.

Do I need to put my used needles in a special container before I bring them in to the SSP?

Yes, please put your dirty needles in a sharps container or in a coffee can or laundry detergent bottle and bring it to the SSP.

How much time will it take once I get to the SSP for me to be helped?

The SSP operates on a first come, first served basis and usually takes between 15-30 minutes depending on the services received.

What is HIV?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus and causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) if not treated. Unlike some other viruses, the human body can’t get rid of HIV completely even with treatment. So once you get HIV, you have it for life. HIV attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells (T cells), which help the immune system fight off infections. Untreated, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells (T cells) in the body, making the person more likely to get other infections or infection-related cancers. Over time HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. These opportunistic infections or cancers take advantage of a very weak immune system and signal that the person has AIDS, the last stage of HIV infection. No effective cure currently exists, but HIV can be controlled with proper medical care. The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy or ART. If taken the right way every day, this medicine can dramatically prolong the lives of many people infected with HIV, keep them healthy, and greatly lower their chance of infecting others. Before the introduction of ART in the mid-1990s, people with HIV could progress to AIDS in just a few years. Today, someone diagnosed with HIV and treated before the disease is far advanced can live nearly as long as someone who does not have HIV.

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus. Most people become infected with the Hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. For 70-85% of people who become infected with Hepatitis C, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection. Chronic Hepatitis C is a serious disease than can result in long-term health problems, even death. The majority of infected persons might not be aware of their infection because they are not clinically ill. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. The best way to prevent Hepatitis C is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially injecting drugs, but successful treatment is now available.

Will police be inside the SSP?

Security will be present for staff & client safety only.

Could I be arrested if I am seen going to the SSP?

We are hopeful that will not occur. Local law enforcement is aware of the site and service and are supportive of it. We do not foresee any repercussions occurring to participants.

Does the SSP promote drug use?

No. The goal of the SSP is to decrease the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV by promoting clean needle/supply use. Studies have shown over the 20 years of operations of syringe exchange programs worldwide, drug usage does NOT increase in communities where they are established. We also work to provide referrals and on-site assistance for anyone seeking to make a change in their lifestyle.

Do SSP’s increase violence in communities?

There are no studies indicating such increases.

What organizations are operating this SSP?

The Allen County Department of Health in partnership with the Positive Resource Connection, Clean Slate, Park Center, Bowen Center and Fort Wayne Recovery operates the SSP.

Is 4817 New Haven Avenue the only location of the SSP? Are there other locations?

Yes. No other locations are available in Allen County at this time.

What if I need to get rid of used needles when the SSP is closed – what should I do?

Put them in a coffee can or laundry detergent bottle and seal securely with duct tape. Then place in the normal trash.

Are news media reporters allowed inside the SSP to do news stories?

No. Members of the media won’t be permitted inside the SSP during operational hours.

COVID-19 Vaccines
I’ve heard most people are not at risk for severe disease or death from COVID19, so why should I get vaccinated?

While you may be low-risk for severe disease or death from COVID-19, many people have long-term problems from COVID-19 like lung, heart and nerve problems and there could be other effects that become apparent in the future. Also, once you’re fully vaccinated you don’t have to quarantine after a COVID-19 exposure unless you develop symptoms.

How do I get a vaccine?

Information about scheduling an appointment for vaccination can be found here or at coronavirus.in.gov. There are more than 1,000 sites offering COVID-19 vaccinations in Indiana, including dozens in Allen County.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. None of the vaccines approved in the U.S. contain live COVID-19 virus and cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

Can I still get COVID-19 if I’m vaccinated?

While the vaccines are extremely effective, they are not 100% and some people who are fully vaccinated may still get COVID-19. However, most breakthrough cases are mild, and vaccines are effective at preventing the most severe outcomes, including hospitalization and death.

Do I need to get the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?

Yes, you should get vaccinated even if you’ve already had COVID-19. Experts do not yet know how long natural immunity from the COVID-19 virus lasts. You should not get vaccinated while you are still sick. You should wait 90 days before getting vaccinated if you received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma during your infection.

Can I choose which vaccine I get?

This map lists vaccination sites across Indiana and indicates which vaccines are available at the sites. Vaccines are currently are available to anyone 6 months and older.

If I am under 18, do I have to have my parent with me to get my shots?

An adult must accompany you to the vaccination sites, where they will be required to show their ID and confirm your age. A parent or legal guardian is preferred at most sites.

How many shots do I have to get?

Most vaccines involve a two-dose regimen and include boosters. Click here for more information.

What are some common side effects?

Common side effects are pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea. These side effects are all normal signs your body is building protection against the virus and should go away within a few days.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

No, COVID-19 vaccines will not change or affect your DNA. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have a very small piece of messenger RNA (mRNA), a type of material that our bodies already use to give the body instructions for making a protein that is found in the COVID-19 virus. Once this protein is made, it triggers the body to make antibodies to fight it. The mRNA never enters the nucleus of our body cells, which is where our DNA (genetic material) is found. The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine does not contain mRNA.

Is it safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I want to have a baby someday?

Yes, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccinations cause any problems with pregnancy or that fertility problems are a side effect of the vaccination (or any other vaccinations).

When is someone considered up-to-date with vaccinations?

You are up-to-date when you have received all doses in the primary series and all boosters, when eligible. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and when they are recommended.

How long does the vaccine protection last?

We do not currently know how long protection lasts. Public health experts are working to learn more about immunity and will keep the public informed as more evidence becomes available. Scientists are seeing decreases in the protection COVID-19 vaccines provide over time, and it is recommended that everyone eligible stay up-to-date with vaccines, including boosters.

If I am vaccinated will I still have to quarantine after an exposure?

If you are up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccines OR had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days, you do not need to quarantine. However, you should should wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days from the date of your last close contact with someone with COVID-19 (the date of last close contact is considered day 0).

If you come into close contact with COVID-19, you should quarantine if you are not up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines.

Click here for more information on quarantines and other safety precautions.

Are there other benefits from getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

You can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic. To reduce the risk of infection and spreading it to others the CDC recommends wearing masks in certain situations.

How much does the vaccine cost and what if I don’t have insurance?

The vaccine is FREE to anyone living in the U.S., regardless of immigration or health insurance status. If you have health insurance, that information will be collected at the time of your appointment to help cover administration costs of the vaccination. You currently will not need to pay anything out of pocket, even if you do not have insurance.

How does a COVID-19 vaccine affect my travel plans?

If you travel within the United States and are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to be tested before or after travel and would no longer quarantine when you return as long as you are not experiencing COVID-10 symptoms. If you are traveling to a different country, you should review guidance for the areas you will be traveling to.

Chikungunya Virus
What is Chikungunya?

Chikungunya (Chik V) is a virus passed on to humans from mosquitoes. People infected with Chik V pass it on to a certain type of mosquito, which then can pass it on to other humans.

Where did Chik V come from?

The virus has been found in Africa, Southeast Asia, and islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It has spread to Southern Europe and in late 2013 appeared in the Caribbean islands.

What kind of mosquito carries and spreads Chik V?

Aedes albopictus, or the Asian Tiger Mosquito as it is commonly known, can carry Chik V and several other viral diseases. It is widespread in parts of the United States but has not yet been found to be prevalent in northern Indiana

What are the symptoms of Chik V?

Symptoms usually begin 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and consist of fever, severe joint pains (often in the hands and feet), headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and/or rash. Most patients feel better within a week. Some people may develop longer-term joint pain. People at increased risk for severe disease include newborns exposed during delivery, older adults (≥65 years), and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. Deaths are rare (1 in a 1,000 people).

How is Chik V treated?

There are no antiviral medicines. There are medicines to help reduce fever and pain. There is no vaccine or medicine to prevent Chik V.

How can I prevent Aedes albopictus from breeding on my property or biting me?

Eliminate any standing water on the property, change pet watering dishes, overflow dishes for potted plants, and bird bath water frequently. Do not allow water to accumulate in tires, flower pots, buckets, rain barrels, gutters etc. Use personal protection to avoid mosquito bites. Long sleeves and insect repellent such as DEET will reduce exposure to bites. Aedes albopictus is a day biter with feeding peaks in early morning and late afternoon, so by limiting outdoor activities during these times when mosquitoes are generally most active, bites can be avoided.

Tuberculosis
What is tuberculosis (TB)?

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that is caused by bacteria. Although TB infection can occur anywhere in the body, it usually is found in the lungs.

Is TB serious?

Yes. If not treated properly, TB disease can be life-threatening.

How is TB spread?

The TB bacteria is spread the same way that cold and flu viruses are spread: through the air. Whenever someone with active TB in their throat or lungs sneezes, coughs, or spits, the bacteria is released into the air. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

How contagious is it? Can you get TB simply from being in the same room with someone who has it?

TB is not spread by shaking someone’s hand, kissing or sharing food or drink. It usually requires close contact over a long period of time. The likelihood of transmission occurring in an average-size room is very low.

What is the difference between latent TB and active TB?

People with latent TB infection have the TB bacteria in their bodies, but they are not sick because the bacteria are not active. People with latent TB infection do not have symptoms, and they cannot spread TB bacteria to others. The concern is for the future, if the TB bacteria become active in the body and multiply, the person will go from having latent TB infection to being sick with active TB disease. People with active TB can spread the disease to others. For this reason, people with latent TB infection are often prescribed treatment to prevent them from developing active TB disease.

What are the symptoms of active TB?

The general symptoms of TB disease include feelings of fatigue, weight loss, chills, fever and night sweats. If TB disease is in the lungs, the symptoms can include coughing, chest pain, and the coughing up of blood or sputum. Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.

How is TB diagnosed?

A skin test is the most common way to find out if a person has been exposed to TB infection. There is more than one type of TB skin test; however, the preferred method is the Mantoux test. For this test, a small needle is used to inject testing material, called tuberculin, under the skin of the forearm. Two or three days later, a health worker examines the arm to see if there is a reaction. The test may be “positive” if a bump of a certain size appears on the arm. A blood test, called an IGRA, can also be done as a screening for TB and we find it especially effective in folks with a compromised immune system from illness or medication. If the skin or blood test is positive, the next step would be to conduct a symptom review and order a chest x-ray. If both of those are negative, then the person is diagnosed with LTBI. If either or both of those are positive, the person will be required to submit 3 sputum samples to rule out active TB disease. The sputum is examined for both smear and culture, and takes up to 6 weeks to finalize. The vast majority of the time, people acquire latent TB, not active TB disease.

Can TB be treated?

Yes. Active, drug-susceptible TB can be treated by taking several drugs over a period of 6-9 months. It is very important that people who have TB disease finish the medicine, taking the drugs exactly as prescribed. If they stop taking the drugs too soon, they can become sick again; if they do not take the drugs correctly, the TB bacteria that are still alive may become resistant to those drugs. All of these medications are provided free of charge from the health department. Latent, “inactive” TB can also be treated by taken a much shorter drug regimen that active TB. The most common treatment for latent TB includes 2 different medications that are taken once a week for 12 weeks. There are several different options for treatment available. Your provider will be able to determine which treatment course will be best for you. These medications are also provided free of charge from the health department.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

If you have a cough that has been present for two weeks or more, and any or all of the above symptoms, you should make an appointment with a doctor. You and your health care provider will then be able to develop an appropriate plan of action to assess the risk of TB.

How do you determine who to test after an exposure?

The health department follows guidelines from the CDC to determine those at the greatest risk of contracting TB. Those people identified as high risk contacts are tested in the first round of testing. If a significant percentage of those contacts test positive on a screening test, then testing is expanded to include medium and low risk contacts if necessary.

Do I have to worry about being around my family if I was exposed?

Not typically. As mentioned above, most people that are infected off of an active case of TB are infected with latent TB infection, which is not contagious. If you are not experiencing any of the TB symptoms listed, then you shouldn’t be a risk to your family and friends. If you do have symptoms, please contact your doctor or the health department for further testing.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Chlamydia

What is it? A bacterial infection of the genital area.

Symptoms? Often there are no symptoms. For people with symptoms, there may be abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina and/or burning sensation when urinating. For women, abdominal pain or bleeding between periods.

Spread? Vaginal, oral or anal sex. It can also be passed from mother to child during childbirth.

Treatment? Oral antibiotics cure infection. Both partners must be treated at the same time to keep from passing the infection back and forth. Both partners should abstain from sex until the infection is gone.

Consequences? If left untreated, chlamydia can cause sterility (inability to have children) in both men and women.

Find Out More About Chlamydia

Gonorrhea

What is it? A bacterial infection of the genital area.

Symptoms? Most infected people have no symptoms. For those who do, it can cause a burning sensation while urinating, abnormal white, green and/or yelllowish vaginal or penile discharge.

How is it spread? Vaginal, oral or anal sex. It can also be passed from mother to child during childbirth.

Treatment? Oral antibiotics can cure infection. Both partners must be treated at the same time to prevent passing the infection back and forth. Both partners should abstain from sex until the infection is gone.

Consequences? Gonorrhea can cause damage to women's fallopian tubes in women and men's sperm passageway.

Find Out More About Gonorrhea

Hepatitis

What is it? A viral infection affecting the liver.

Symptoms? Many people don’t have any symptoms. People may experience tiredness, aches, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and yellowing of the skin and eyes (called jaundice).

How is it spread? Vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Also through childbirth if the baby does not get vaccinated against Hep B. Sharing contaminated needles or razors. Exposure to the blood, bodily fluids or saliva of an infected person.

Treatment? Most often, acute Hep B is treated with rest, eating well and lots of fluids. Chronic Hep B is treated through close monitoring by a doctor and anti-retroviral medications. There is a vaccine available to prevent Hep B.

Consequences? Increased risk of infection of other STDs including HIV. Hepatitis can also lead to chronic liver problems, cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Find Out More About Hepatitis

HIV

What is it? The virus that causes AIDS.

Symptoms? Many people who are infected with HIV do not have any symptoms and feel healthy. Symptoms people get are usually related to infections and cancers due to a weakened immune system.

How is it spread? Vaginal, oral or anal sex. Sharing contaminated needles. Direct contact with infected blood. From mother to child during pregnancy, child birth or breast feeding.

Treatment? There is no cure for HIV or AIDS. Anti-retroviral treatment can slow the progression of HIV disease and delay the onset of AIDS. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve a person’s chances of living a longer, healthier life.

Consequences? AIDS is fatal if left untreated.

Find Out More About HIV

Syphilis

What is it? A bacterial infection that can spread in the body.

Symptoms? Symptoms can vary, beginning with a simple painful sore (called a chancre) on the mouth or sex organs. Other symptoms can appear up to six months after the first sore has disappeared.

How is it spread? Vaginal, oral or anal sex. It can also be passed through kissing if a sore is present, and from mother to child during childbirth.

Treatment? Antibiotics can cure syphilis if caught early, but medication cannot undo the damage already done. Both partners must be treated and avoid sexual contact until the sores are completely healed.

Consequences? Increased risk for infection of other STDs including HIV. It can also cause damage to brain, heart and nervous system if left untreated.

Find Out More About Syphilis

Trichomoniasis

What is it? An infection of the genital area caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis.

Symptoms? Most infected people do not have symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they range from mild irritation to severe inflammation. Men may feel itching or irritation inside the penis, burning after urination or ejaculation or some discharge from the penis. Women may notice itching, burning, redness or soreness of the genitals, discomfort with urination or a thin discharge with an unusual smell that can be clear, white, yellowish, or greenish.

How is it spread? During sex, the parasite is usually transmitted from a penis to a vagina, or from a vagina to a penis, but it can also be passed from a vagina to another vagina. It is not common for the parasite to infect other body parts, like the hands, mouth or anus. It is unclear why some people with the infection get symptoms while others do not, but it probably depends on factors like the person’s age and overall health. Infected people without symptoms can still pass the infection on to others.

Treatment? Oral antibiotics can cure the infection. Both partners should abstain from sex until the infection is gone and symptoms go away.

Consequences? Having trichomoniasis can make it feel unpleasant to have sex and increases the risk of getting or spreading other STDs. The infection can last for months or even years without treatment.

Find Out More About Trichomoniasis

Bacterial Vaginosis

What is it? A bacterial infection of the vaginal area.

Symptoms? Many women with Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) do not have symptoms. Some symptoms can include thin white or gray vaginal discharge, odor, pain, itching or burning in or around the vagina or while urinating. Some have a strong fish-like odor especially after sex.

How is it spread? BV is linked to an imbalance of “good” and “harmful” bacteria normally found in a woman’s vagina. BV is not considered an STD, but having BV can increase your chances of getting an STD. BV may also affect women who have never had sex.

Treatment? BV can be treated with antibiotics but will sometimes go away without treatment. Male sex partners of women diagnosed with BV generally do not need to be treated. However, BV may be transferred between female sex partners.

Consequences? BV can cause serious health risks, including increasing your chance of getting HIV or other STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. The bacteria can sometimes cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can make it difficult or impossible for you to have children.

Find Out More About Bacterial Vaginosis

Camplylobacter (poultry)
What is it?

Campylobacteriosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria Campylobacter.

Symptoms?

Most people who become ill get diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and fever within 2-5 days after exposure. Diarrhea may be bloody and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Illness typically lasts about one week, but some do not have any symptoms. Campylobacter occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes life-threatening infection in people with compromised immune systems.

How infections occur?

Most cases are associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry meat or from cross-contamination. Outbreaks are often connected to 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 person to person, but this can happen if the infected person is producing a large volume of diarrhea. It takes very few Campylobacter organisms to make a person sick. Even one drop of juice from raw chicken meat can have enough to infect a person.

Treatment?

Most recover without specific treatment. Patients should drink extra fluids as long as diarrhea lasts. Antimicrobial therapy is only for patients with severe disease or those at high risk for severe disease.

E. coli 0157 (ground beef, leafy greens, raw milk)
What is it?

Escherichia coli (E. coli) are a diverse group of bacteria. Most strains are harmless, but some like E.coli 0157 can people sick. Some E. coli causes diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, pneumonia and other illnesses.

Symptoms?

Symptoms vary but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually is not high (less than 101˚F/38.5˚C). Most people get better within 5-7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.

How infections occur?

Infection happens by swallowing the bacteria from tiny amounts of human or animal feces. Exposures include consumption of contaminated food, unpasteurized raw milk, water that has not been disinfected, or from contact with cattle or the feces of infected people. Some foods carry such a high risk of infection with E. coli O157 or another germs it is recommended people avoid them completely, including raw milk, soft cheeses made from raw milk and unpasteurized apple cider.

Sometimes contact is obvious (working with dairy cows or changing diapers), but sometimes it is not (eating an undercooked hamburger or a contaminated piece of lettuce). People have been infected by swallowing lake water, petting zoos and and by eating food prepared by people who did not wash their hands well after using the toilet. Almost everyone has some risk of infection.

Treatment?

Non-specific supportive therapy, including hydration, is important. Antibiotics should not be used and may increase the risk of hemolytic uremic syndrome. Antidiarrheal agents like Imodium may also increase that risk.

Listeria (deli meats, unpasteurized soft cheeses, produce)
What is it?

Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.

Symptoms?

Fever and muscle aches sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms are common. Some also experience stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. Pregnant women typically experience fever and other non-specific symptoms, such as fatigue and aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

How infections occur?

Most infections follow consumption of contaminated food. Listeria are killed by cooking and pasteurization. However, in some ready-to-eat meats like hot dogs and deli meats, contamination may occur after factory cooking but before packaging or even at the deli counter. Unlike most bacteria, Listeria can grow and multiply in some foods in the refrigerator.

Treatment?

Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. A person in a higher-risk category (pregnant woman, older adults and people with weakened immune systems) who experiences fever and other non-specific symptoms like fatigue and aches within 2 months of eating a contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the physician or health care provider about eating the contaminated food. If a person has eaten food contaminated with Listeria and does not have any symptoms, most experts believe no tests or treatment are needed, even for those at higher risk for listeriosis.

Salmonella (eggs, poultry, meat, produce)
What is it?

Salmonellosis is an infection from the bacteria Salmonella.

Symptoms?

Most develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4-7 days, and most recover without treatment. However, diarrhea may be so severe in some to require hospitalization. The elderly, infants and those with compromised immune systems are more likely to have severe illness.

How infections occur?

Usually contaminated food, water or contact with infected animals causes infection. Because thorough cooking kills Salmonella, people should not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, meat or raw or unpasteurized milk or other dairy products. Produce should be thoroughly washed. Food may be contaminated by the hands of an infected food handler who did not wash properly after using the bathroom. Salmonella may also be found in the feces of some pets, and people can become infected if they do not wash their hands after contact with pets or pet feces.

Treatment?

Salmonella gastrointestinal infections usually resolve in 5-7 days and most do not require treatment other than additional hydration. Severe diarrhea may require intravenous fluids. Antibiotic therapy is recommended only for patients with severe illness (severe diarrhea, high fever, bloodstream infection or those who need hospitalization) or those at risk of severe disease or complications, including young infants, adults over 65 and the immunocompromised.

Vibrio (raw oysters)
What is it?

Vibrios are bacteria occurring naturally in estuarine or marine environments. Roughly a dozen species are known to cause disease in humans.

Symptoms?

Vibriosis is characterized by diarrhea, blood, wound or other extra-intestinal infections.

How infections occur?

Infection is usually from exposure to sea water or consumption of raw or undercooked seafood. Some illnesses can occur from exposing an open wound to contaminated seawater.

Treatment?

Treatment is not necessary in many cases. Patients should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluids lost through diarrhea. In severe or prolonged illnesses, antibiotics can be used.

Norovirus (many foods)
What is it?

Toxoplasma gondii is single-celled parasite causing a disease known as toxoplasmosis.

Symptoms?

Most people who become infected with Toxoplasma gondii are not aware of it. Some people who have toxoplasmosis may feel like they have the flu with swollen lymph glands or muscle aches and pains that last for a month or more. Severe toxoplasmosis – which causes damage to the brain, eyes or other organs – can develop from an acute Toxoplasma infection or one that occurred earlier in life and reactivated.

How infections occur?

Toxoplasmosis can occur from eating undercooked, contaminated meat (especially pork, lamb, and venison), drinking contaminated water or from contact with cat feces.

Treatment?

In an otherwise healthy person who is not pregnant, treatment usually is not needed. If symptoms occur, they typically go away within a few weeks to months. Medications are available to treat toxoplasmosis in pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems.