Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Alaska Reports Campylobacter Outbreak

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported today that the south-central part of the state – which includes Anchorage – has experienced an unusually large number of cases of Campylobacter enteritis since the beginning of July. 

Thirty-two people were diagnosed with Campylobacter in July and August of this year, compared to just 15 people during the same period last year. One person was hospitalized for observation.

Except for SalmonellaCampylobacter causes more cases of gastroenteritis annually in the United States than any other known bacterial pathogen. Individuals usually contract an infection by drinking raw milk, drinking or swimming in contaminated water, eating undercooked poultry, or eating food that has been cross-contaminated by contact with raw poultry or untreated water.

Most infections with Campylobacter are self-limiting, and disappear in a few days with no lingering aftereffects. But, in a small number of cases, the infection can trigger arthritis or – in approximately 0.1% of cases – a severe, acute neurological autoimmune disease known as Guillain-Barré syndrome.

As part of their investigation into the source of the outbreak, the state is asking any resident or visitor who has experienced a bout of bloody diarrhea since the beginning of July to contact the Section of Epidemiology at:  1-877-469-8067.

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