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A large outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni infection in a university college caused by chicken liver pâté, Australia, 2013

  • C. R. M. MOFFATT (a1) (a2), A. GREIG (a3), M. VALCANIS (a4), W. GAO (a4), T. SEEMANN (a4) (a5), B. P. HOWDEN (a4) (a6) and M. D. KIRK (a2)...

Summary

In October 2013, public health authorities were notified of a suspected outbreak of gastroenteritis in students and guests following a catered function at a university residential college. A retrospective cohort study was undertaken to examine whether foods served at the function caused illness. A total of 56 cases of gastroenteritis, including seven laboratory-confirmed cases of Campylobacter jejuni infection, were identified in 235 eligible respondents. Univariate analysis showed a significant association with a chicken liver pâté entrée [relative risk (RR) 3·64, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2·03–6·52, P < 0·001], which retained significance after adjustment for confounding via multivariable analysis (adjusted RR 2·80, 95% CI 1·26–6·19, P = 0·01). C. jejuni and C. coli were also isolated in chicken liver pâté recovered from the college's kitchen. Subsequent whole genome multilocus sequence typing (wgMLST) of clinical and food-derived C. jejuni isolates showed three genetically distinct sequence types (STs) comprising ST528, ST535 (both clinically derived) and ST991 (food derived). The study demonstrates the value of utilizing complementary sources of evidence, including genomic data, to support public health investigations. The use of wgMLST highlights the potential for significant C. jejuni diversity in epidemiologically related human and food isolates recovered during outbreaks linked to poultry liver.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence: Mr C. R. M. Moffatt, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Research School of Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 2602. (Email: cameron.moffatt@anu.edu.au)

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