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More Campylobacter cases in Seattle; poultry possible source

For the second time this week public health officials in the Seattle area have disclosed an investigation into Campylobacter infections suspected to have been foodborne.

Wednesday the Seattle & King County Public Health Department reported two people had been confirmed by laboratory analysis with campylobacteriosis. Multiple other people reported illnesses consistent with Campylobacter infection, but health officials have not interviewed them.

All of the sick people reported Wednesday attended a private party June 24. The public health department learned of the illnesses on Aug. 10.

“Food for the party was prepared in the private home and included chicken, a food item known to be associated with Campylobacter,” according to the health alert. “However, chicken was purchased pre-cooked and was cooked a second time. No single food item was identified as the definitive source of illness.”

Two days earlier, on Monday, the public health department posted a similar notice regarding two other people who had laboratory confirmed Campylobacter infections from food consumed on June 24. Both of those victims ate at Café Juanita, a restaurant in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland.

“On July 24, public health learned about two ill persons from a single meal party during an interview with an ill person diagnosed with Campylobacter,” according to the notice.

The department was not able to confirm the Campylobacter information about the second infected person until Aug. 16. The infected people shared multiple food items, including foie gras — made from the livers of ducks or geese that have been fattened, usually by force feeding with tubes.

“Foie gras has been linked to other Campylobacter outbreaks in the past, particularly when eaten raw or undercooked,” public health officials reported.

Anyone in the Seattle area who has recently eaten poultry and developed symptoms of campylobacteriosis is urged to seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the pathogen.

Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever within 1 to 10 days after swallowing the bacteria. The diarrhea may be bloody and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The illness typically lasts about one week. Some infected people do not have any symptoms. In people with compromised immune systems, Campylobacter occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a serious, life-threatening infection.

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