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Campylobacter Blog

Surveillance & Analysis on Campylobacter News & Outbreaks

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.

Pennsylvania Raw Dairy Recalls Campylobacter Milk

According the Pennsylvania State Agriculture and Health Department, raw milk consumers are being urged to discard raw milk produced by The Family Cow in Chambersburg, Franklin County, because of potential Campylobacter bacterial contamination.

After the Department of Agriculture received a consumer complaint, it collected samples of raw milk during an investigation of The Family Cow on July 29, 2013. Positive test results for Campylobacter were confirmed today. Additionally, the Department of Health confirmed two cases of Campylobacter infection in people who consumed raw milk from the farm at 3854 Olde Scotland Road.

The packaged raw milk is sold under The Family Cow label in plastic gallon, half gallon, quart and pint containers. It is labeled as “raw milk.” Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized.

The Family Cow, owned and operated by Edwin Shank, sells directly to consumers in an on-farm retail store and at drop off locations and retail stores around Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley, as well as south-central Pennsylvania.

Agriculture officials have ordered the owners of the farm to stop the sale of all raw milk until further notice.

Sound familiar?

May 29, 2013

The Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Health today advised consumers to discard raw milk produced by The Family Cow in Chambersburg, Franklin County, because of potential bacterial contamination. Agriculture and Health Department laboratory tests and several recent illnesses indicate the raw milk may contain Campylobacter bacteria.

February 25, 2012

The number of people who became sick with an intestinal infection after drinking raw milk from a Franklin County farm continues to rise. As of today, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said 78 cases of Campylobacter bacteria are connected to unpasteurized milk sold in mid-January by The Family Cow dairy in Chambersburg. Of the cases, 68 people were sickened in Pennsylvania, five in Maryland, two in New Jersey and three in West Virginia. At least nine people were hospitalized.

For information on the risks of raw milk, please see Real Raw Milk Facts.

Minnesota Milk with Campylobacter

Minnesota state health and agriculture officials reported today that routine disease surveillance has detected at least six illnesses linked to consumption of raw dairy products from the Dennis Jaloszyski dairy farm, near Cambridge, Minnesota.

According to epidemiologists with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the illnesses include three people with laboratory confirmation of a bacterium called Campylobacter jejuni. The illnesses were reported to MDH by health care providers as required under Minnesota law. When MDH contacted the individuals to inquire about potential causes of their illnesses, the ill people reported that they had consumed raw milk from the Jaloszynski Farm.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture inspectors visited the farm to determine how many customers were purchasing the milk to notify them of the outbreak. Because the owner did not have a customer list, a consumer advisory is being issued. Anyone who may have purchased or received raw milk from this farm should not drink it but should throw it away.

Burger & Beer Bash Linked to Campylobacter Illnesses

Bacterial contamination was being blamed Monday for an outbreak of foodborne illness following the popular Burger & Beer Bash in Westchester County earlier this month.

The county Health Department said Monday that the campylobacter bacterium was to blame for the outbreak at the June 6 outdoor food festival at the Kenisco Dam in Valhalla.

The bacterium was identified through tests on samples from several people who got sick at the event. The department did not specify exactly how many people were sickened.

But health officials have not determined the source of the bacteria, since most attendees ate food from many of the 30 different vendors at the event, the department said. The department has launched an investigation and has been interviewing people in an effort to trace the source.

PA’s The Family Cow Dairy Linked to Raw Milk Campylobacter Illnesses.

The Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Health today advised consumers to discard raw milk produced by The Family Cow in Chambersburg, Franklin County, because of potential bacterial contamination.

Agriculture and Health Department laboratory tests and several recent illnesses indicate the raw milk may contain Campylobacter bacteria.

The Department of Health has confirmed five cases of confirmed Campylobacter infection in people who consumed milk from the farm at 3854 Olde Scotland Road.

Based on the reported illnesses, the Department of Agriculture collected samples of raw milk during an investigation of The Family Cow, on May 17. Positive tests for Campylobacter were confirmed Tuesday.

The packaged raw milk is sold under The Family Cow label in plastic gallon, half-gallon, quart and pint containers. It is labeled as “raw milk.” Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized.

The Family Cow, owned and operated by Edwin Shank, sells directly to consumers in an on-farm retail store and at drop off locations and retail stores around Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley, as well as south-central Pennsylvania.

Agriculture officials ordered the owners of the farm to stop the sale of all raw milk until further notice.

Campylobacter bacteria affect the intestinal tract and sometimes the bloodstream and other organs. It is one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis, which can include diarrhea and vomiting. Nearly 1,300 confirmed cases of Campylobacter are reported each year in Pennsylvania.

Onset of the illness usually occurs two to five days after ingesting the bacteria. Patients may not require specific medical treatment unless they become severely dehydrated or the infection spreads from the gastrointestinal tract.

For more information about Campylobacter, visit www.health.state.pa.us or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH.

Campylobacter strain linked to cow-share dairy farm on the Kenai Peninsula

The Alaska Section of Epidemiology is investigating another outbreak of Campylobacter infection associated with the consumption of raw milk. This new outbreak is associated with raw milk distributed by the same Kenai Peninsula cow-share program that was linked to a Campylobacter outbreak sickened at least 31 people in February 2013.

In the current investigation, five cases of Campylobacter infection have been identified to date. Two of the five people sought medical attention. Testing by the Alaska State Public Health Laboratory identified the bacteria strain as Campylobacter jejuni. The exact same strain of C. jejuni was found in cow manure obtained earlier this year at the cow-share farm that distributed the raw milk. “The genetic fingerprint of the bacteria isolated from these two people and the cow is unique. It has never been seen before in the United States,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, State Epidemiologist. “These outbreaks are an unfortunate reminder of the inherent risks associated with raw milk consumption, and underscore the importance of pasteurization.”

Anyone who has developed gastrointestinal symptoms such as loose stools and cramping within 10 days after consuming raw milk should notify his or her health care provider. Persons who develop concerning symptoms of illness such as bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, arthritis, or muscle weakness should seek prompt medical attention.

Also, anyone who has consumed raw milk and subsequently experienced acute gastrointestinal illness in 2013 should notify the Section of Epidemiology Infectious Disease Program at 907-269-8000 (in Anchorage) or toll free at 1-800-478-0084.

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