Public health officials in New York City are looking into an outbreak of illnesses believed to be infections from Campylobacter, a foodborne pathogen.

Brooklyn officials say 50 cases of illnesses have been reported since the beginning of October. A specific source of the foodborne pathogen has not yet been determined, but chicken is often a source.

“Whenever you have an outbreak of some type of foodborne illness, most likely, when you see the actual number of reported cases, it underestimates, and in some cases, greatly underestimates, the actual number of cases that have occurred,” Dr. Bruce Y. Lee, a professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy told TheCity.NYC.

The occurrence of outbreaks caused by Campylobacter has been on the rise in recent years, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the average number of outbreaks each year from 2004 through 2009 was 22; it was 31 from 2010 through 2012 and 29 from 2013 through 2017. The CDC, estimates that Campylobacter affects 1.5 million U.S. residents every year.

About Campylobacter
People with Campylobacter infection usually have diarrhea (often bloody), fever and stomach cramps. Nausea and vomiting may accompany diarrhea. These symptoms usually start 2 to 5 days after the person ingests Campylobacter and last about one week.

Sometimes Campylobacter infections cause complications, such as irritable bowel syndrome, temporary paralysis, and arthritis.

Anyone who experiences symptoms of infection from Campylobacter should contact their doctor and ask for a specific test. The infections can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms mimic other bacterial infections and viral infections.

In people with weakened immune systems, such as those with a blood disorder, with AIDS, or receiving chemotherapy, Campylobacter occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a life-threatening infection.

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