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.