October 19, 2017

Another Campylobacter Outbreak in Seattle, Washington

Another Campylobacter outbreak in Seattle, Washington has been identified by King County Public Health. This outbreak is associated with a private party that was held on June 24, 2017.

Petri Dish

Public Health was informed about the illnesses on August 10. Two people have been sickened with lab-confirmed Campylobacter infections. Each case said that there were “multiple other ill persons” associated with the same party. Public health officials did not interview the other sick people to confirm details.

The food for the party was prepared in the home. One of the foods on the menu was chicken, which has been associated with Campylobacter outbreaks in the past. But this chicken was purchased pre-cooked and was cooked a second time. Officials have not identified a single food item as a definitive source of the illnesses.

Public Health contacted the host of the party to discuss which foods were served, how they were prepared, and to make sure that no ongoing source of infection remained. Officials did not identify any concerns for food safety practices.

The symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea that can be bloody,  stomach and abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and fever. The illness usually begins 1 to 10 days after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria, but most people get sick within 2 to 5 days.

If you have experienced these symptoms, see your doctor. Campylobacter infections can be serious and even life-threatening. One complication of this illness is Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which can cause total body paralysis. Campylobacter can also cause a bloodstream infection called sepsis, which can be life-threatening.

Most of these outbreaks are connected with the consumption of undercooked meat, especially poultry, or raw foods contaminated with raw meat juices. Campylobacter outbreaks have also been caused by contaminated water, unpasteurized milk, or raw cheeses.

To prevent Campylobacter infections, always cook all poultry thoroughly to a final internal temperature of 165°F, and check that temperature with a food thermometer. The color of the meat and the color of juices are not good indicators of doneness. If you are eating out and the poultry you ordered does not look done, send it back to the kitchen. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after you use the bathroom, caring for someone who is ill, or before preparing food for others or eating.

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