At least 31 residents of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula were sickened early this year in a Campylobacter outbreak linked to raw milk, according to a report from state health officials.

While this outbreak, which lasted from early January to mid-February, appears to be over, the farm whose raw milk caused the outbreak could still be serving contaminated product, according to the document, published by the Alaska Section of Epidemiology (SOE) last week.

Between January 8 and February 13, 31 people  between the ages of 7 months and 72 years old fell ill with Campylobacter coli infections that were ultimately linked to a cow-share program on the peninsula.

Of the victims, two were hospitalized and four developed reactive arthritis, a painful inflammation of the joints caused by bacterial infections that can last up to a year.

The SOE report reveals that health officials had identified the cow-share program on the peninsula as the outbreak source by February 14. The following day, SOE and the Office of the State Veterinarian informed the implicated dairy and the public of the problem; however the dairy continued to sell its raw milk products on the Kenai Peninsula and in Anchorage.

At that point, 29 cases of Campylobacter coli had been linked to the dairy.

The following week, after two more cases were identified, health officials issued an updated health advisory, after which they say the cow share program provided them with a list of its customers that turned out to be incomplete and lacked contact information for most shareholders.

Applying hot, flowing air to poultry transport crates could be an effective way to kill Campylobacter in these environments, according to new government research.

Poultry is a known reservoir of Campylobacter, a bacteria that causes gastrointestinal illness. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Campylobacter infections are associated with raw or undercooked poultry, or other foods that come into contact with contaminated birds.

Since animals harbor Campylobacter in their intestines and it is shed in their feces, the floors of poultry coops are rich ground for the bacteria. In poultry transport crates, bacteria in feces left by one bird might contaminate several of the next inhabitants.

While research has shown that washing cages and then drying them for one to two days can reduce or eliminate Campylobacter, this wait time is not practical for farmers.

But scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and the University of Georgia at Athens have discovered that applying hot, moving air to crates that have been sprayed with water can reduce Campylobacter to undetectable levels, according to ARS’ Agricultural Research Magazine.

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) is reporting campylobacter bacteria was found in a sampling of raw (unpasteurized) milk from Black Hills Milk in Belle Fourche, S.D.

SDDA advises consumers that raw milk recently purchased from this business may contain harmful bacteria that can lead to campylobacter infection. Symptoms of this infection include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and can sometimes progress to more serious illness, such as kidney failure and other complications.

The implicated milk is sold at a retail outlet in Spearfish, Black Hills Farmers Market at Founder’s Park in Rapid City and other locations in the Black Hills. If you have purchased this raw milk, SDDA advises the product be discarded or returned.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), pasteurized milk that is correctly handled in the dairy, bottled, sealed and refrigerated after pasteurization, and that is properly handled by the consumer, is very unlikely to contain illness-causing bacteria.

The SDDA requires producers selling raw milk to be permitted through the state, inspected once or twice a year depending on grade of milk and provide a monthly quality analysis.

Campylobacter1.jpgRaw milk, raw skim milk (non-fat) and raw cream produced by Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno County and with a code date of SEP 13 are the subjects of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones. The quarantine order followed the confirmed detection of campylobacter bacteria in raw cream. No illnesses have been reported at this time.

Under the recall, Organic Pastures Dairy brand Grade A raw cream, Grade A raw milk and Grade A raw skim milk, all with a labeled code date of SEP 13, are to be pulled immediately from retail shelves, and consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators.

CDFA inspectors found the bacteria as a result of product testing conducted as part of routine inspection and sample collection at the facility.

According to California Department of Public Health, symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Most people with campylobacteriosis recover completely. Illness usually occurs 2 to 5 days after exposure to campylobacter and lasts about a week. The illness is usually mild and some people with campylobacteriosis have no symptoms at all. However, in some persons with compromised immune systems, it can cause a serious, life-threatening infection. A small percentage of people may have joint pain and swelling after infection. In addition, a rare disease called Guillain-Barre syndrome that causes weakness and paralysis can occur several weeks after the initial illness. in five chicken products sold in UK supermarkets are contamined with campylobacter, according to a new investigation by Which?

Which? tested standard, oranic and free-range whole chickens and chicken portions from Aldi, Asda, The Co-operative, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose, taking a total of 193 samples. They found that one in five (18%) of the samples were contaminted with campylobacter, while 14% were contanimated with listeria and 1.5% were contamined with salmonella.

The consumer organisation said that while the results suggest an improvement on the FSA’s findings in 2009 that 65% of fresh chickens were contamined with campylobacter at point of sale, the levels of contamination were still to high to be acceptable.

It pointed to its research last year, which revealed that 82% of the public want better control of campylobacter throughout the supply chain, rather than having to deal with contamination when cooking and handling chicken.

“While the situation is improving, it is still unacceptable that one in five chickens we tested were found to be contaminated with campylobacter,” said Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director.

“We want to see the risk of contamination minimised at every stage of production, because for far too long consumers have been expected to clean up mistakes made earlier in the supply chain.”

cow.pngThe California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) today announced a recall of “raw milk, raw nonfat milk and raw cream produced by Claravale Farm of San Benito County.”

The action was based on results of testing that revealed the presence of Campylobacter bacteria in the company’s raw cream.

The CDFA states that”consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators with code dates of “MAR 27” and earlier, and retailers are to pull those products immediately from their shelves.”

The farm had ceased distribution of its products last Monday, March 19, after CDFA “made a preliminary positive finding of campylobacter in raw cream.”

While no illness have been definitively linked to the raw milk,  the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is “currently conducting an epidemiological investigation of reported clusters of campylobacter illness where consumption of raw milk products may have occurred.”

milk-2201dc1b485885c6.jpgThe 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.

The department says it is the largest foodborne outbreak related to raw milk in the state.

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, state Department of Health spokeswoman Holli Senior said.

Over at Outbreak Database, we have been keeping track of foodborne illness outbreaks – small and large – over the last 12 months.  Here are some of the more interesting Campylobacter Outbreaks:

Jerry Dell Farm Unpasteurized, Raw Milk September 2011 – 2 Ill.  At least two people became ill due to Campylobacteriosis after drinking raw milk. Jerry Dell Farm in Freeville, New York had produced the milk. The farm had an agricultural permit to sell raw milk at the farm. The milk was confirmed to be contaminated with Campylobacter.

Matanuska-Suisitna Valley Cow Share Program Raw Milk May 2011 – 18 Ill.  An outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni was linked to the consumption of raw milk obtained through a cow share program in southeast Alaska. In Alaska, regulations did not allow the sale of raw milk; however owning shares of a cow to obtain milk was permissible. Campylobacter was not isolated from milk, but was isolated from manure samples collected at the dairy farm. Coincidentally Listeria was isolated, but no human illness had been attributed to this pathogen.

San Joaquin County is experiencing a marked increase in the number of cases of campylobacteriosis, a gastrointestinal disease that is one of the most common causes of diarrhea in the United States.

County Health Officer Dr. Karen Furst said there were almost 100 more cases reported in 2010 compared with 2009 — 233 vs. 135 — and the rise that began last summer is continuing into this year.

San Joaquin County Public Health Services conducted a study to look for a common source and specimens were sent to the California Department of Public Health Laboratory for more specific DNA identification.

No common source of exposure was discovered.

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