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Am J Public Health. 1986 Apr;76(4):407-11.

The role of poultry and meats in the etiology of Campylobacter jejuni/coli enteritis.


To determine the role of meats as possible sources of infection leading to Campylobacter jejuni/coli (CJC) enteritis, 218 cases and 526 controls were selected from the King County Group Health Cooperative (GHC) population from April 1982 through September 1983. All subjects were interviewed regarding food consumption one week prior to case onset. Consumption of chicken and cornish game hen were both associated with more than a doubling of the risk of CJC enteritis: for chicken (relative risk = 2.4, 95% CI = 1.6-3.6), and for game hen, (RR = 3.3, 95% CI = 1.1-9.8). The consumption of raw or rare chicken was even more strongly associated (RR = 7.6, 95% CI = 2.1-27.6). Strains of CJC bearing R factors for tetracycline were equally as likely as tetracycline-susceptible strains to have been acquired from chicken and game hens. Processed turkey sandwich meats (RR = 1.7, 95% CI = 1.0-2.9) raw or rare fish (RR = 4.0, 95% CI = 1.1-14.5) and shellfish (RR = 1.5, 95% CI = 1.1-2.1) were the only other meats reported to have been eaten significantly (p less than .05) more often by cases than by controls. These data along with the results of bacteriologic sampling of meats from King County retail food markets during the same period suggest that ingestion of contaminated chicken is a primary source of CJC enteritis, contributing to approximately half of the cases.

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