Unpasteurized Milk Likely Source of Campylobacter Outbreak

Fresh cheese produced from unpasteurized milk may have led to Campylobacter jejuni infections in Kansas

MONDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- An outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni that occurred in Kansas during 2007 was likely due to the consumption of fresh cheese produced from unpasteurized milk, according to a report in the Jan. 2 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

D. Charles Hunt, of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and colleagues reported the results of an investigation immediately following the C. jejuni outbreak. The outbreak occurred within an isolated community of approximately 150 individuals, following a community fair during which fresh cheese was made from local unpasteurized milk.

A total of 87 percent of the community completed the questionnaire, nearly half of which (52 percent) met the case definition for C. jejuni infection. Although none of the respondents reported diarrhea symptoms prior to the fair, 97 percent and 27 percent reported watery or bloody diarrhea, respectively, after the fair, the investigators found. Those consuming the fresh cheese made at the fair had a 13.9 relative risk of illness, the report indicates. A total of 66 percent of persons who consumed the fresh cheese had C. jejuni symptoms. C. jejuni was isolated from three patient specimens, but was not found in leftover cheese or milk samples.

Although unpasteurized milk was not confirmed as the source of infection, an accompanying editorial note asserts that "to prevent milkborne infections, unpasteurized milk and unpasteurized milk products should not be consumed."

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