September 25, 2023

Most Campylobacter Outbreaks Caused by Dairy or Chicken

Most Campylobacter outbreaks are caused by contaminated chicken or dairy products, according to a new federal study by the Food Safety Analytics Collaboration of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The study was conducted to provide information that can be used to develop better food poisoning prevention measures.

Raw whole chickenOf the 952 outbreaks attributed to one pathogen during the 14-year study period, 161 were Campylobacter outbreaks. Dairy products were the source of 106, or two thirds, of all Campylobacter outbreaks.  Chicken was the source of 24 of them. Vegetable row crops, seven.  Turkey and seafood were each the source of five. Seeded vegetables, three. Beef, fruit and poultry other than chicken and turkey were each the source of two outbreaks. And one outbreak was attributed to each of the following categories: pork, game, fish, oils and sugars and other produce.

Symptoms of an infection include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Children, those with compromised immune systems or chronic illnesses, pregnant women, and seniors are most at risk for serious illness. Complications of a Campylobacter infection include Guillain-Barrè syndrome, arthritis, meningitis, blood poisoning, heart attack, and hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Campylobacter is the most common source of raw milk outbreaks such as the September 2014 outbreak in Durand, Wisconsin when 38 people who attended a potluck for the football team were sickened by contaminated raw milk. Ten people were hospitalized.

Most of those who became sick, 33 of the 38, were high school students. Ten people were hospitalized. So many football players were sick for so long that two games had to be canceled.

A May 2014 raw milk outbreak linked to  Ropelato Dairy in Ogden, Utah was one of that state’s largest. Forty five people, ranging in age from 2 to 74, were sickened.

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