Shades for All Year Long

Officials with Public Health — Seattle & King County reported on the investigation of a Campylobacter outbreak linked to eating foie gras at a Kirkland, WA restaurant.

Image/Eagle via pixabay
Image/Eagle via pixabay

The outbreak is associated with a single meal party at Café Juanita in Kirkland on June 24, 2017.

On July 24th, Public Health learned about two ill persons from a single meal party during an interview with an ill person diagnosed with Campylobacter. We were not able to confirm illness information about the second ill person until August 16th. No other ill persons have been identified.

The ill persons shared multiple food items, including foie gras. Foie gras has been linked to other Campylobacter outbreaks in the past, particularly when eaten raw or undercooked.

What is Campylobacter?

It is a bacterium that can be found  in chicken, in healthy cattle, birds, raw milk, and contaminated water. Most cases of campylobacteriosis are associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry meat or from cross-contamination of other foods by these items. Infants may get the infection by contact with poultry packages in shopping carts. It is also possible to get infected from the feces of an infected pet cat or dog. It is the leading cause of bacterial diarrhea in the United States, more than Salmonella and Shigella combined.

It doesn’t take a lot of this organism to get you ill. In some studies it showed that as little as 500 organisms can cause disease in some individuals.

Campylobacter jejuni, the species most often implicated in infection, causes diarrhea, which may be watery or sticky and can contain blood and white blood cells. Other symptoms often present are fever, abdominal pain, nausea, headache and muscle pain. The illness usually occurs 2-5 days after ingestion of the contaminated food or water. Illness generally lasts 7-10 days, but relapses are not uncommon (about 25% of cases).

There can be complications associated with campylobacteriosis; they include arthritis and neurological disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome. It is estimated that the latter is seen in one out of every 1000 cases of Campylobacter.

Most cases of Campylobacter are self-limiting and do not require treatment. However, severe cases can be treated with antibiotics to shorten the length of the disease.