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Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2009 Dec;6(10):1241-50. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2009.0300.

Outbreaks of campylobacteriosis in Australia, 2001 to 2006.

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National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.


The objective of this study was to examine the frequency of Campylobacter outbreaks in Australia and determine common transmission routes and vehicles. Summary and unit data on Campylobacter outbreaks that occurred between January 2001 and December 2006 were systematically collected and analyzed. Data from Campylobacter mandatory notifications for the same period were used for comparison. During the study period there were 33 Campylobacter outbreaks reported, affecting 457 persons. Of these, 147 (32%) had laboratory-confirmed infections, constituting 0.1% of notified Campylobacter cases. Campylobacter outbreaks most commonly occurred during the Australian Spring (September to November; n = 14, 45%), when notifications generally peaked. Transmission was predominantly foodborne or suspected foodborne (n = 27, 82%), commercial settings (n = 15, 55%) being most commonly involved. There were eight foodborne outbreaks (30%) attributed to food prepared or eaten at institutions; four (15%) at aged care facilities and three (11%) at school camps. A vehicle or suspected vehicle was determined for 16 (59%) foodborne outbreaks; poultry (chicken or duck) was associated with 11 (41%) of these, unpasteurized milk and salad were associated with two outbreaks each. Three potential waterborne outbreaks were detected, and one was due to person-to-person transmission. Campylobacter outbreaks were more commonly detected during this study period compared to a previous 6-year period (n = 9) when prospective recording of information was not undertaken. However, outbreak cases continue to constitute a very small proportion of notifications. Improved recognition through subtyping is required to enhance outbreak detection and investigation so as to aid policy formulation for prevention of infection. In addition to detection of chicken as a common source of outbreaks, these data highlight the importance of directing policy at commercial premises, aged care facilities, and school camps to reduce Campylobacter disease burden.

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