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January 17, 1986

Campylobacter Infection Associated With Raw MilkAn Outbreak of Gastroenteritis due to Campylobacter jejuni and Thermotolerant Campylobacter fetus subsp fetus

Author Affiliations

From the Bureau of Community Health and Prevention, Wisconsin Division of Health (Drs Klein, Vergeront, and Davis), the Enteric Bacteriology Section, Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (Mr Janssen), and the Departments of Pediatrics (Drs Klein and Davis) and Preventive Medicine (Dr Davis), University of Wisconsin Clinical Sciences Center, Madison; the Medical Service, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Denver (Dr Blaser); and the Division of Field Services, Epidemiology Program Office (Dr Klein) and the Molecular Biology Laboratory, Biotechnology Branch, Division of Bacterial Diseases (Drs Edmonds and Brenner), Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta.

JAMA. 1986;255(3):361-364. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370030081032

Raw milk is identified with increasing numbers of outbreaks of gastroenteritis and is an important vehicle for transmission of Campylobacter infection. Unlike Campylobacter jejuni, Campylobacter fetus subsp fetus has not been associated with common-source outbreaks of gastroenteritis. This report describes an outbreak of gastroenteritis involving C jejuni and a thermotolerant strain of C fetus subsp fetus associated with raw milk. Fifteen (39%) of 38 persons who attended a banquet in Wisconsin in June 1982 developed acute gastroenteritis. Stool specimens were obtained from nine ill guests; four yielded C jejuni and three yielded C fetus subsp fetus. The C fetus subsp fetus isolates were identified fortuitously, in part because of unusual thermotolerance (growth at 42 °C), permitting isolation at temperature appropriate for C jejuni. Survey results implicated raw milk as the source of the outbreak. Findings provide evidence of a potentially emergent milkborne pathogen contributing to the risk of raw milk consumption and suggest that current diagnostic laboratory techniques may fail to identify significant foodborne agents.

(JAMA 1986;255:361-364)