Ruth Heide of The Valley Courier (Colorado)reports that for some San Luis Valley residents this year, a trip to the doctor may have been preceded by a trip to the kitchen or outdoor grill. The Valley averages 3-6 cases of Campylobacter per year, and it looks like this year will be no exception, according to Dr. William Brinton, regional epidemiologist for the San Luis Valley.

Campylobacter is an illness that must be reported to the Colorado Department of Health. Brinton said the San Luis Valley has had four cases of the food-born illness this year, some of them occurring this summer when risks are higher because bacteria grows more readily in warmer temperatures and because of the conditions sometimes associated with outdoor cooking.

Campylobacter almost always is a food born illness and is not easy to pass from human to human, Brinton explained, “so when we see a case, usually it is from contaminated food or dairy.” It is commonly contracted from chicken although sometimes is contracted from dairy products or meats such as pork or beef.

Brinton added Campylobacter is the most common cause of illness from food reported in Colorado. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and vomiting. People generally become sick within 2-5 days after they have eaten contaminated food, and the illness may last several days, up to a week or longer, Brinton said.