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Campylobacter rises as culprit for foodborne gastroenteritis

Research to focus on prevention in food sources, such as chicken
By Marilyn Bitomsky
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA | The incidence of foodborne gastroenteritis caused by Campylobacter has now surpassed that of salmonella and shigella by a factor of at least two, according to an Australian scientist.
To seek prevention and treatment answers, the 13th International Workshop on Campylobacter, Helicobacter and Related Organisms focused on warm-blooded animals and birds, particularly those that are part of our food chain.
“Spread through contaminated poultry and meats, unpasteurized milk and unchlorinated water, Campylobacter has become a major cause of lost productivity in the workplace and a health issue of concern,” said Dr. Victoria Korolik from Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics here.


“According to World Health Organization data, Campylobacter affects 1,000 in every 100,000 people.”
Most gastroenteritis is caused by Campylobacter jejuni, which is highly pathogenic and causes foodborne disease, she said.
Things like unpasteurized milk or badly chlorinated water are also sources of infection, because most animal waste material washes into water reservoirs.
“In rare cases, following diarrhea, people can get neuroparalytic syndrome–their immune system confuses nerve tissue with bacteria and kills it.”
She said most research efforts are currently focused on prevention in the animal industry, trying to ensure that chickens which come to the processing plants are not infected with this bacterium.
“If we can prevent transmission from food source to humans, then we don’t need to worry about curing the humans.”