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Epidemiol Infect. 1991 Oct;107(2):363-72.

Jackdaws and magpies as vectors of milkborne human Campylobacter infection.

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Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead.


In 1990 we reported that milk bottles pecked by jackdaws and magpies were a probable source of human campylobacter infection. During April to June 1990 an extended study of campylobacter infections was carried out in the Gateshead area. Prior to the study a health education programme was undertaken in an attempt to reduce human infection. Fifty-nine cases of human infection were recorded and 52 were interviewed. Thirty were entered into a case control study which demonstrated a very strong association between consumption of pecked milk and human campylobacter infection (chi 2 = 12.6, P less than 0.0004). It was estimated that between 500 and 1000 jackdaws (Corvus monedula) were present in the area where milk bottles were pecked and 63 isolates of campylobacter were made from the bill and cloaca. Target bottles were put out in the early mornings and campylobacters were isolated from 12 of 123 pecked bottles. Typing of the campylobacters revealed a wide distribution of strains amongst birds, pecked milk and human infections. The health education programme had only limited success.

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