Header graphic for print

Campylobacter Blog

Surveillance & Analysis on Campylobacter News & Outbreaks

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.

Campylobacter Tainted Oysters Sickens Three in Oregon

The Oregon Health Authority has investigated a cluster of three Campylobacter cases among Oregon residents who consumed raw oysters. The oysters came from two different markets in Lane and Coos counties. The oysters were harvested from a single source in Coos Bay, Oregon.

The three Oregon patients who became ill with Campylobacter coli (a less common species of Campylobacter) reported illness after eating raw oysters between January 15-20, 2014. All patients were males between 50-75 years of age. Of the three patients, two were hospitalized and are recovering well.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Division was informed and visited the company. The company has voluntarily recalled the oysters. Read the press release.

Oysters pose certain health risks when consumed raw. Those who are committed to eating oysters can cook them thoroughly. Read FDA’s article: The Danger of Eating Contaminated Raw Oysters and our factsheet on Safe Eating of Shellfish (pdf) to learn more.

Multistate Outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni Infections Associated with Undercooked Chicken Livers — Northeastern United States, 2012

MMWR Weekly

November 8, 2013 / 62(44);874-876

In October 2012 the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) identified three cases of laboratory-confirmed Campylobacter jejuni infection in Vermont residents; the isolates had indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns. A query of PulseNet, the national molecular subtyping network for foodborne disease surveillance, led to the identification of one additional case each from New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont that had been reported in the preceding 6 months. An investigation led by VDH found that all six patients had been exposed to raw or lightly cooked chicken livers that had been produced at the same Vermont poultry establishment (establishment A). Livers collected from this establishment yielded the outbreak strain of C. jejuni. In response, establishment A voluntarily ceased the sale of chicken livers on November 9. A food safety assessment conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) found no major violations at the establishment. This is the first reported multistate outbreak of campylobacteriosis associated with chicken liver in the United States. Public health professionals, members of the food industry, and consumers should be aware that chicken livers often are contaminated with Campylobacter and that fully cooking products made with chicken liver is the only way to prepare them so they are safe to eat.

Food Standards Agency – More work to do on Camplyobacter

Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK. It is considered to be responsible for about 460,000 cases of food poisoning, 22,000 hospitalizations and 110 deaths each year and a significant proportion of these cases come from poultry. An FSA survey of chicken on sale in the UK (2007/8) indicated that 65% of chicken on sale in shops was contaminated with campylobacter.

Reducing cases of campylobacter is the FSA’s top food safety priority but monitoring carried out by the FSA shows there is no evidence of change in the proportion of the most highly contaminated chickens since 2008.

The Board paper, which can be found at the link below, outlines how the FSA will:

  • Improve the amount and quality of information about campylobacter levels that is available at all stages of the supply chain, to support and incentivize more effective risk management
  • Address regulatory barriers to the adoption of safe and effective technological innovations for reducing campylobacter risks at all stages in the food supply chain
  • Work with local government partners and others to raise awareness of campylobacter and ensure that food businesses using chilled chicken are aware of the risks and managing them appropriately
  • Continue and increase our support to research programs into vaccination and other possible long term interventions to address the issue
  • Drive changes in behavior and approach, using tools including regulation if appropriate

The FSA expects industry to focus its actions to:

  • Continue to improve the effectiveness of biosecurity measures on farms to prevent flock colonization with campylobacter
  • Ensure that steps involved in slaughter and processing are effective in preventing contamination of carcasses
  • Continue to work on packaging and other initiatives that reduce cross contamination in the consumer and food service kitchen
  • Develop and implement new interventions that reduce contamination when applied at production scale

Catherine Brown, FSA Chief Executive, said: ‘what we have proposed in this paper is a shift in culture and a refocusing of effort by both government and the food industry to tackle this persistent and serious problem. While we remain committed to joint working with industry we want to encourage and see producers, processors and retailers treat campylobacter reduction not simply as a technical issue but as a core business priority – and I see some encouraging signs of that happening.

‘I feel that because this is a complex and difficult issue there has tended to be an acceptance that a high level of contamination will inevitably occur and that there’s little that can be done to prevent it. The FSA doesn’t believe this is the case and this paper sets out how together we can make progress towards reducing the number of people who get ill from campylobacter. I am hosting a round table discussion with industry leaders on Monday, 2 September where we will explore these ideas more fully.’

FSA monitoring results show there is no evidence of a change in the proportion of most highly contaminated birds since 2008. Samples for this monitoring are taken from chickens at the end of processing (post-chill) in UK slaughterhouses and tested to determine the level of campylobacter present on the skin. Results are classified into 3 bands of contamination, which correspond to less than 100 colony forming units/gram (cfu/g), between 100 and 1000cfu/g and more than 1000cfu/g.