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Campylobacter Blog

Surveillance & Analysis on Campylobacter News & Outbreaks

70% of UK Tainted with Campylobacter – Not that Different in US

The Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) released its “Name and Shame” Report this morning.  The idea of testing retail chicken and publishing the results had been the focus of much discussion over the last few months.  Some UK retailers were not very happy that the public would actually know how tainted the chicken really is.

If this had been the US equivalent, FSIS, we would be wondering why would the report be released on Thanksgiving Day.  My guess is that in the UK Thanksgiving does not have the same meaning as it does over here.

Retailers had tried to block the study’s release.

Well, back to the study; Campylobacter was found in 70 per cent of chicken tested up from 59 per cent of chickens in August.  Almost a fifth of all chickens (18 per cent) tested positive for Campylobacter above the highest level of contamination, while six per cent of packaging tested positive – a rise of four per cent since August.

The FSA also revealed that Asda sold the highest percentage of chickens contaminated with the bug.  Campylobacter was present in 78 per cent of chickens from the supermarket, with 28 per cent above the highest level of contamination.

Packaging testing showed 12 per cent was contaminated.  Don’t forget the recent “chicken juice” report.

Almost three-quarters of chickens (73 per cent) sold by the Co-operative tested positive, followed by Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose (69 per cent), Marks & Spencer (67 per cent) and Tesco (64 per cent).

Perhaps it is time to redo our 2011 testing of contamination levels in chicken purchased in Seattle.  Here were some of the results:

The study showed that up to 80% of Seattle area raw chicken could be contaminated with some form of potentially harmful bacteria.

Testing done by IEH Laboratories in Lake Forest Park, Washington showed that 80 of 100 raw chickens purchased at various Seattle area grocery stores contained at least one potentially harmful pathogen.

The test was comprised of 18 brands of chicken purchased at 18 different Seattle area stores including chain grocery stores, Safeway (3 locations), Albertsons (2), QFC (4), Fred Meyer (2), Thriftway (1); warehouse clubs Costco (2) and Sam’s Club (1); natural foods stores Whole Foods (1) and PCC (1), and one small market, Ken’s Market (1).

In the study local and organic chicken did not prove to be safer than other samples. In terms of origination, 59 chicken samples originated from Washington, while 13 samples came from other states and 28 were of unknown origin. Regardless of place, chicken from every state tested was confirmed to contain potentially harmful bacteria.  Of the 14 samples of organic chicken 12 contained harmful bacteria.

The study tested for five pathogens.  While some findings were typical, other results were more surprising.  Previous studies have found on average that 33 to 53% of chicken is contaminated with Campylobacter.  In Seattle 65% of the chicken tested positive for Campylobacter.  Salmonella was isolated in 19% of the chicken purchased at retail stores in the Seattle area, slightly higher than the expected average of 16%.  Staphylococcus aureus was found in 42% of the chicken sampled; 10 of these samples were Methicillan-resistant, commonly known as MRSA.  One sample cultured positive for Listeria monocytogenes and one sample cultured positive for E. coli O26, a bacteria often found in beef.

Campylobacter:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Campylobacter outbreaks. The Campylobacter lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Campylobacter and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Campylobacter lawyers have litigated Campylobacter cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as raw milk and municipal water.

The Family Farm Raw Milk Campylobacter Lawsuit – Pennsylvania (2012)

The Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed at least 80 cases of Campylobacter infections in an outbreak tied to contaminated unpasteurized milk from The Family Cow dairy, located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  Illness onset dates for the outbreak ranged from January 17 to February 1. At least nine people were hospitalized.  This was one of the largest foodborne illness linked to raw milk in Pennsylvania history, and affected individuals in four states. The breakdown of illnesses by state is as follows:  Pennsylvania (70), Maryland (5), West Virginia (3), and New Jersey (2).

Since 2007, Pennsylvania raw milk dairies have been linked to at least seven outbreaks, now resulting in a total of 287 illnesses. In 2008, the state had a raw milk outbreak of Campylobacter infection that sickened 72 people.

Although the dairy temporarily halted sales upon discovery of the outbreak, the farm was allowed to resume production on February 6, after passing a health inspection.  Lab tests by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found the outbreak strain of Campylobacter in two unopened bottles of raw milk collected from customers’ homes, and the owners of the dairy acknowledged responsibility for the contaminated milk that caused the outbreak.  “It was us … food from our farm has made people sick,” owner Edwin Shank wrote in an open letter posted on the dairy’s website.

Of the 80 confirmed cases, 25 (31 percent) were under the age of 18, while all those ill ranged in age from 2 to 74.  There have been two additional outbreaks since 2012 – http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/08/third-campylobacter-outbreak-from-family-cow-dairy-sickens-2/#.Um54nyTPFXM

Campylobacter:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Campylobacter outbreaks. The Campylobacter lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Campylobacter and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Campylobacter lawyers have litigated Campylobacter cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as raw milk and municipal water.

If you or a family member became ill with a Campylobacter infection, including Guillain-Barré Syndrome, or GBS, after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Campylobacter attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Raw Milk – with Campylobacter – Strikes Again – 22 Sick – 8 Hospitalized

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene (WSLH), the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Pepin County Health Department have been working on an investigation into an outbreak of illnesses that affected some members of the football team and coaching staff at the Durand Jr/Sr High School who attended a team dinner on September 18th, 2014. Testing performed at the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene and area labs and clinics confirmed that the outbreak was caused by Campylobactor jejuni bacteria.

As part of the investigation, DHS interviewed all of the football team members (ill and well) and coaching staff to assess illnesses and ask questions about things they may have been exposed to (activities, foods, water sources, etc.) in the days before becoming ill. In a comparison of the interview responses from ill and well team members, consumption of raw milk was the only food item associated with illness.

At the request of DHS, DATCP staff collected cow manure specimens. Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene test results (genetic fingerprinting) show that the bacteria that caused diarrheal illness among individuals who drank the unpasteurized (raw) milk at the potluck was the same bacteria strain found on the farm that supplied the raw milk.

Campylobacter jejuni bacteria can cause diarrhea, which can be bloody, abdominal cramping, fever, nausea and vomiting. Campylobacter can be transmitted by consuming food contaminated directly or indirectly by animal feces or handled by someone with the infection who has not adequately washed hands after using the bathroom.

Campylobacter 22, Durand Football 0

Lindsay Alowairdi reports that 22 cases of Campylobacter have now been confirmed in the Durand School District.

Heidi Stewart, with the Pepin County Health Department, says all of the cases involve members of the Durand High School football team.

Campylobacter is a bacterial infection causing diarrhea, stomach pain, and a fever. Last week, more than 100 students in the district were reported absent.

Stewart told WEAU that more than 50 interviews have been conducted with the football team, people around the football team, coaches, staff, and others to try and help determine what caused the outbreak.

The school district says the worst of the illness seems to be passing, and as of Monday, attendance was back to normal at Durand schools.

Was Raw Milk Served at Potluck Link to Campylobacter Outbreak in Wisconsin?

Jessica Bringe of WEAU reports that more than 100 total Durand High School students were reported absent last week with Durand’s football team being hardest hit by the illness.  There are 19 confirmed cases of Campylobacter; all are members of the football team.

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

The Pepin County Health Department continues to work with the DHS and the Durand School District in efforts to prevent and control infections and to investigate the source of the outbreak.

The Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene continue to coordinate testing for any ill students and staff to identify the source of their illness. The Durand School District will continue to provide updates.

The Durand School District continues to follow the cleaning and disinfection guidelines recommended by the DHS to ensure all school buildings, buses, and grounds are safe for all parties involved.

Campylobacter is a bacteria and a common cause of gastrointestinal illness in Wisconsin. Symptoms include diarrhea, which may be bloody, abdominal cramping and fever.

Campylobacter Hits Durand High School

Wisconsin state and Pepin county health officials are investigating an outbreak of Campylobacter infections in the Durand School District in Pepin County, Wisconsin. Eight people had reportedly been hospitalized with gastrointestinal illness, and dozens more were ill, including members of the high school’s football team and several coaches and managers.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were eight confirmed Campylobacter cases and one with an indeterminate result, said Jennifer Miller, communications specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in Madison.

“They determined there was no anthrax involved. That had been rumored,” she said. “So it appears to be Campylobacter. The source we don’t know at this time.”

Durand School Superintendent Greg Doverspike said Thursday that four people were currently still in the hospital and that the investigation was focusing on common symptoms among those sickened and potential sources of the bacteria.

“We are testing for anything we can get our hands on,” he said. “There was a team function Thursday night, so we are looking at food and water and what they used to drink from at football practices — anything that seems to be a common thing.”

Raw MIlk Linked to Campylobacter in Utah

Utah public health officials are investigating a cluster of illness associated with the consumption of raw or unpasteurized milk. To date, 45 cases of Campylobacter infection have been reported in people who indicated that they consumed raw milk in the week before illness began. Cases have been reported from: Cache, Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties. Two cases occurred in out of state residents from California and Idaho. Onset dates range from May 9, 2014 to July 21, 2014. The cases range in age from two to 74 years.

All 45 cases are linked to the consumption of raw milk or cream purchased at Ropelato Dairy in Weber County. Utah Department of Agriculture and Food inspectors suspended the dairy’s license to sell raw milk on August 4, 2014, after several tests of raw milk samples taken at the farm were positive for Campylobacter.
According to Larry Lewis, Public Information Officer, Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, “Inspectors have repeatedly visited the dairy, reviewing safety procedures, working with the owner to determine the source of the problem and helping devise corrective actions.”  The dairy has been very cooperative in working with the inspectors, and will be allowed to resume raw milk sales as soon as the milk consistently passes safety tests.
Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. Illness can last for up to a week or more and can be serious, especially for young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those who have weakened or compromised immune systems. UDOH Epidemiologist, Kenneth Davis adds, “In some severe cases, illness can lead to complications, including paralysis and death. If you have recently consumed raw milk and are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider.”
Raw milk is from cows, goats or sheep that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. This raw, unpasteurized milk can contain dangerous bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli, which are responsible for causing foodborne illness. Other products that contain raw milk, such as cream or queso fresco, can also cause foodborne illness.
Raw milk contaminated with disease-causing bacteria does not smell or look any different from uncontaminated raw milk, and there is no easy way for the consumer to know whether the raw milk is contaminated.
Since 2009, there have been 14 documented outbreaks of Campylobacter infection associated with raw milk consumption in Utah, with more than 200 people becoming ill. In response, public health officials again warn that drinking raw milk may be dangerous. They suggest taking the following steps to avoid illness when purchasing and/or consuming raw milk (or raw milk products):

Campylobacter jejuni Vaccine Set for Human Trials

Food Safety News reports that a vaccine to protect against Campylobacter jejuni was recently approved for human clinical trials by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Campylobacter is a major cause of bacterial diarrhea worldwide — estimated to be the cause of 4-15 percent of cases. It’s a problem in both developed and developing countries and is associated with unpasteurized dairy products, contaminated water, poultry and produce.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that campylobacteriosis affects more than 1.3 million people every year.

Although Campylobacter infections are generally mild, complications can include reactive arthritis neurological disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.

Cook Your Chicken Livers to Avoid Campylobacter

Since December 2013, Oregon health officials have been looking into the source of Campylobacteriosis that has sickened five individuals in Oregon and Ohio. All cases report eating undercooked or raw chicken livers; most cases consumed chicken livers prepared as pâté. The cases in Ohio ate chicken liver pâté while visiting Oregon. The Oregon Health Authority is working with USDA and CDC.

This is the second reported multistate outbreak of campylobacteriosis associated with consumption of undercooked chicken liver in the United States.

Chicken livers should be considered a risky food. A recent study found up to 77 percent of chicken livers tested were positive for Campylobacter. Washing chicken livers is not enough; chicken livers can be contaminated on the inside and on the outside, which is why thorough cooking is the only way to kill bacteria in contaminated livers.

Pâté made with chicken liver is often undercooked to preserve texture. It can be difficult to tell if pâté is cooked thoroughly because livers are often partially cooked then blended with other ingredients and chilled. Pâté prepared at a USDA inspected facility is considered safe to eat because in order to pass inspection the livers must be cooked to a proper temperature.

Coos Bay Oyster Company Issues Recall after Three Ill with Campylobacter

Coos Bay Oyster Company of Charleston, Oregon is expanding its previous recall of January 30 to include all of its shellstock oysters because they have the potential to be contaminated with Campylobacter, an organism that can cause serious and some times fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Healthy persons infected with Campylobacter often experience diarrhea, headache and body ache, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within two (2) to five (5) days after exposure to the organism. The diarrhea may be bloody and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The illness typically lasts one (1) week and some infected persons do not have any symptoms. In persons with compromised immune systems Campylobacter occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a serious life threatening infection.

Product was distributed through wholesale dealers and retail stores in Oregon and California.

Container is a red onion sack containing five (5) dozen shellstock oysters (various sizes) with a Coos Bay Oyster Co. label and shellstock tags with various harvest dates (December 2013-January 2014).

The recall is the result of an epidemiologic investigation of a Campylobacter outbreak in Oregon. There have been three (3) confirmed reported cases of Campylobacter illness related with the consumption of raw shucked oysters to date.

Coos Bay Oyster Company has ceased the production and distribution of the product as the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the company continue investigating the cause of the problem.