Campylobacter sucks: Irish woman’s terrifying ordeal, paralyzed and couldn’t move a muscle

An Irish woman was left paralysed from her neck to her toes after eating a chicken which was contaminated with a common bacteria.

campy.chickenSandra Loftus, from Kinsealy, Co Dublin, contracted Guillain-Barre Syndrome – a severely debilitating condition of the nervous system – after she ate chicken infected with campylobacter.

The bacteria commonly causes food poisoning and shockingly 98.3% of chickens bought by the public here in Ireland are infected with it.

And like Sandra, one in 100 of us who contract food poisoning from campylobacter will get Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

She explained: “I was cooking dinner for the family and I was doing a chicken stir fry.

“The next day I was very sick I had terrible cramps in my stomach, nausea, diarrhea – it was really bad. The Saturday then when I got up the legs just went from under me.

“After a full day in hospital they said to me, ‘Look, just go home, it could be a virus, come back to us if it gets worse.’

“When Monday came I couldn’t even lift my hands – there was no power or anything.

“So I was straight back over to A&E and spent three months in high dependency there and then nearly a year in rehab in Dun Laoghaire.”

Sandra told RTE’s Consumer Show that she thought she was going to die.

She said: “I was paralysed from my neck to my toes, I couldn’t move a muscle.

barfblog.Stick It In“And I thought I was going to die because when we looked into it one in four people can die from this.”

Sandra spent three months in intensive care unit battling for her life and then spent a further nine months at the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire.

Thankfully she has now fully recovered from her ordeal.

However, in the food safety advice bit at the end, sorta like Dear Abbey, the story says, “Make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut in to the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.”


Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

It’s not just chicken but UK wants piping hot bang for its intervention dollar: Campy results released

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has today published the latest set of results from its year-long survey of campylobacter on fresh chickens. Campylobacter is a food bug mainly found on raw poultry and is the biggest cause of food poisoning in the UK.

chickenThe results are published for the first time as Official Statistics and the full report can be found via the link on this page. Cumulative results for samples taken between February and November 2014 have now been published, including results presented by major retailer.

The results to date show:

19% of chickens tested positive for campylobacter within the highest band of contamination.*

73% of chickens tested positive for the presence of campylobacter.

7% of packaging tested positive for the presence of campylobacter. Only three out of more than 3,000 samples of packaging tested positive at the highest band of contamination.

*More than 1,000 colony forming units per gram (>1,000 cfu/g). These units indicate the degree of contamination on each sample.

More than 3,000 samples of fresh whole chilled chickens and packaging have now been tested. Data continue to show variations between the retailers but none is meeting the target for reducing campylobacter (see table below).

The FSA’s 12-month survey, running from February 2014 to February 2015, will test around 4,000 samples of whole chickens bought from UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers. The full set of results is expected to be published in May.

The FSA has welcomed the publication by M&S of a case-study showing the results from the retailer’s recently implemented five-point intervention plan to reduce campylobacter on its chickens. The preliminary results published by M&S indicate a significant reduction in the number of the most highly contaminated birds.

Steve Wearne, FSA Director of Policy, said: ‘We now know it is possible to make positive inroads in the reduction of campylobacter. Figures released today by M&S show that their intervention plan has resulted in fewer contaminated chickens on sale in their stores. If one retailer can achieve this campylobacter reduction through systematic interventions then others can, and should.

‘Our survey is putting pressure on retailers to work with poultry processors to do more to tackle campylobacter. We want the industry to reduce the number of the most highly contaminated chickens as we know this will have the greatest impact on public health.

‘Campylobacter is killed by thorough cooking, but it should not be left to consumers to manage the risk.’

Is M&S Marks and Spencer or something else?



Retailer Number of
% skin samples positive for campylobacter (95% confidence interval) % skin samples
>1,000 cfu/g campylobacter (95% confidence interval)
% pack samples positive for campylobacter (95% confidence interval)
Asda 491 78.9  (75.2 – 82.4) 31.1  (27.0 – 35.2) 13.0  (10.1 – 16.1)
Co-op 274 75.6  (70.2 – 80.6) 16.4  (12.3 – 20.9) 4.4  (2.1 – 7.0)
M&S 103 72.2  (63.0 – 80.7) 20.7  (13.0 – 29.1) 3.8  (0.8 – 8.1)
Morrison’s 271 76.2  (71.4 – 80.9) 22.9  (18.0 – 28.0) 13.3  (9.5 – 17.4)
Sainsbury’s 451 69.6  (65.4 – 73.7) 14.3  (11.2 – 17.6) 4.0  (2.3 – 6.0)
Tesco 925 68.2  (65.3 – 71.1) 12.3  (10.2 – 14.4) 4.1  (2.9 -5.4)
Waitrose 96 71.7  (62.1 – 80.5) 15.6  (8.5 – 23.7) 6.2  (2.1 – 11.7)
Others[1] 450 76.9  (72.9 – 80.7) 23.2  (19.4 – 27.2) 6.8  (4.6 – 9.2)
Total 3,061 72.9 (71.4 -74.5) 18.9 (17.5 – 20.3) 6.8 (5.9 – 7.7)


[1] The ‘Others’ category includes supermarkets where the market share was deemed small using the 2010 Kantar data: eg Lidl, Aldi, Iceland, plus convenience stores, independents, butchers etc.

Always the kids: raw goats milk in Idaho sickens at least 2

On August 27, 2014, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Division of Public Health (DPH) was notified of two cases of cryptosporidiosis in siblings aged <3 years. Idaho’s Southwest District Health (SWDH) investigated and found that both children had consumed raw (unpasteurized) goat milk produced at a dairy licensed by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) and purchased at a retail store. Milk produced before August 18, the date of illness onset, was unavailable for testing from retail stores, the household, or the dairy.

goat.poopSamples of raw goat milk produced on August 18, 21, 25, and 28, taken from one opened container from the siblings’ household, one unopened container from the retailer, and two unopened containers from the dairy, all tested positive for Cryptosporidium by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) at a commercial laboratory. On August 30, ISDA placed a hold order on all raw milk sales from the producer. ISDA and SWDH issued press releases advising persons not to consume the raw milk; SWDH issued a medical alert, and Idaho’s Central District Health Department issued an advisory to health care providers about the outbreak.

All seven of Idaho’s Public Health Districts and DPH continued to monitor cryptosporidiosis reports submitted from Idaho health care providers and laboratories statewide as required by Idaho law. Public Health Districts investigated reports by interviewing ill persons or their parents using a standardized questionnaire. After the hold order, SWDH and the Central District Health Department identified nine ill persons in four households. Four persons who had regularly consumed raw goat milk produced before August 18 experienced symptoms of gastroenteritis, and five household members who had not consumed the milk experienced onsets of symptoms of gastroenteritis 3–8 days after the first household member became ill. No other common exposures were identified. CDC case definitions for cryptosporidiosis were used (1). In total, the 11 ill persons were aged 2 months–76 years (median = 11 years); six were female. One patient was hospitalized. Stool specimens were obtained in three primary cases (i.e., illnesses in those who drank the raw goat milk) and three secondary cases (i.e., illness in contacts of those who drank the raw goat milk); CDC isolated Cryptosporidium parvum subtype IIaA16G3R1 from all six. The last reported outbreak-associated illness was a secondary case with an onset date of September 3.

In addition to the four tested milk samples from containers, five of five milk samples collected along the production line on September 2 tested positive for Cryptosporidium by PCR at the commercial laboratory. Testing of all nine milk samples (four from containers and five from the production line) at CDC for Cryptosporidium by PCR and direct fluorescent antibody test was negative. CDC and the commercial laboratory collaborated to validate the negative result by using sequencing to determine that false-positive results at the commercial laboratory were likely caused by goat DNA amplification during PCR. An inspection of the dairy did not reveal any obvious contamination sources. Water from the producer’s well tested negative at Idaho Bureau of Laboratories for Cryptosporidium by direct fluorescent antibody test after ultrafiltration. Goat stool was unavailable for testing. Negative results led ISDA to release the hold order on September 18.

goat.petting.zooEpidemiologic evidence implicated contaminated raw goat milk as the outbreak source. It was not possible to obtain confirmatory laboratory evidence of milk contamination. Milk consumed before illness onset was unavailable for testing and could have been subjected to a single, undetected contamination event. No other common source was identified, and isolation of the identical Cryptosporidium genotype from ill persons did not disprove a common source. This outbreak highlights an infrequently reported cryptosporidiosis risk from unpasteurized milk (2,3), the value of sequencing to validate PCR protocols, the utility of genotyping Cryptosporidium isolates for strengthening epidemiologic evidence, and the risk for secondary transmission of Cryptosporidium. An increasing number of enteric outbreaks are associated with raw milk consumption (4,5). Resources for consumers, health care providers, and public health officials regarding risks from raw milk consumption are available at

Cryptosporidiosis associated with consumption of unpasteurized goat milk — Idaho, 2014

CDC MMWR 64(07);194-195

Mariana Rosenthal, Randi Pedersen, Scott Leibsle, Vincent Hill, Kris Carter, Dawn M. Roellig

Temple crowd suffers food poisoning in India

At least 500 persons, majority of them children, were admitted in various hospitals in and around Kanhangad on Thursday following suspected food poisoning.

They are said to have taken food from a temple Attenganam, 15 km from Kanhangad, as part of the Shivaratri festival on February 13 and 14.  Condition of some of the victims was said to be critical.

Almost 6000 sick with 1000 dead dogs: Jerky pet treat investigation in US

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an update on its ongoing investigation into pet illnesses and deaths in animals that ate jerky pet treats. of September 30, 2014, the FDA has received approximately 5,000 complaints of illness associated with consumption of chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats, most of which involve products imported from China. The reports involve more than 5800 dogs, 25 cats, three people, and include more than 1,000 canine deaths.

These numbers include approximately 270 complaints received since the FDA’s last update in May 2014. This is a significant decrease from the previous period (October 2013 to May 2014), in which the FDA had received 1,800 complaints.

Because of the sharp reduction in complaints, the FDA is tentatively planning to shift from a biannual routine reporting cycle to issuing annual updates. This shift in reporting cycles does not mean that the FDA is reducing its effort to investigate the cause of these illnesses: the agency continues to devote significant resources to its investigation, and will post non-routine updates if notable events occur.

Although it is impossible to determine in every case whether the events reported were in fact caused by eating jerky pet treats, the FDA continues to believe that there is an association between some of the reports and consumption of jerky pet treats.

The agency continues to caution pet owners that jerky pet treats are not required for a balanced diet, and encourage them to consult with their veterinarians, both prior to feeding treats and if they notice symptoms in their pets.

32 sickened with Campy: Wisconsin raw milk farm penalized in Durand High School case

This is why I pay attention when food is served at the kid’s school.

And I’ve already pissed off a bunch of parents because of my food-safety based draconian and silly requirements for canning and cooking.

doug.braun.sorenne.capitalsThe owners of a Wisconsin dairy farm, who supplied unpasteurized milk to the Durand High School football team this fall causing dozens of students and faculty to become violently ill from Campylobacter bacteria, have agreed to a set of penalties for their role in the outbreak.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture announced on Thursday that Roland and Diana Reed of Arkansaw have agreed to a plan that includes suspending the farm’s Grade A permit for 30 days.
The agency says if the farm violates any of the conditions of the agreement within three years, the Grade A permit will be suspended again for 150 days for the current violation and their Grade A permit will be revoked for no less than six months for the additional violation.

“After reviewing the circumstances described in the final DHS epidemiological and laboratory report, we have determined that the farm violated current statutes and rules by distributing unpasteurized milk in an unauthorized manner, so we are taking appropriate action,” said Dr. Steve Ingham, administrator of the Division of Food Safety for DATCP.

Six cases of botulism in Azerbaijan in January; linked to home pickled tomatoes

Last fall a neighbor told me about a how he was making kimchi, a fermented cabbage, carrot and onion concoction, in his kitchen. He wanted to pickle vegetables for health reasons and remembered what his grandmother had done.

His steps were fairly rudimentary, and a recipe for botulism: he put some vegetables into a mason jar, added some water, put the lid on it and tightened it as hard as it could go. Then he left it on the counter for a week.pickled-tomatoes_1472572c

According to AzerNews, home canned food has been linked to a death a handful of illnesses.

We are accustomed to hear about food poisoning in summertime and may neglect winter’s main danger – botulism -which may strike us down.

In the first month of this year, 64 cases of food poisoning were registered in Azerbaijan. The total number of victims of these poisoning cases reaches 92 people, said Imran Abdullayev, Head of Hygiene and Epidemiology Center Department of the Health Ministry.

Moreover, six cases of botulism were registered last month, which harmed nine people leaving one dead. The poisoning was due to homemade pickled tomatoes.

Everyone and especially those who love homemade pickles should remember storage precautions in winter.

The Centre of Hygiene and Epidemiology urges people to follow hygiene rules at home and buy food from reliable catering outlets and grocery stores to avoid food poisoning. Special attention should be paid to children’s’ nutrition.

To avoid food poisoning, one must simply follow hygiene rules at home and buy food in reliable catering outlets and grocery stores.

Prevention of botulism is simple: combining a refrigeration temperature with salt content and acidic conditions. This combination stops the growth of the bacteria and toxin.

Commercial canned goods are made by food business that require recipes to be evaluated for safety and receive inspections from food safety folks. Ingredients, acidity and canning processing procedures can all impact the safety of the final product.

Home canned are amongst the riskiest foods for botulism. In addition to botulism, acid tolerant pathogens such as E. coli O157 can persist in canned foods and lead to illnesses if the products aren’t processed correctly. The good folks at the National Center for Home Food Preservation has a massive database of recipes and processing times at

Diarrhea downs 200 at export processing firm in Philippines

Diarrhea downed 200 employees of an export processing company in Danao City on Thursday, with investigators looking at contaminated food or water as among the possible causes.

kenny.diarrheaOf the 200 affected employees of Mitsumi, two were confined at the Danao City Hospital where personnel from the Provincial Health Office examined them, GMA Cebu’s Alan Domingo reported Friday.

 The other patients were brought to other hospitals in Cebu City, the report added.

Don’t worry, exports won’t be harmed: Another mad cow case in Canada

Gotta wonder just how effective Canada’s ban on mammalian protein in ruminant feed is, given the number of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) cases there have been over the past decade.

ITALY-G8-G5-AGRICULTURE-FARMWhen there’s a BSE case, or a foodborne illness outbreak like Listeria in the $5.5 billion a year Maple Leaf Foods, government agencies fall over themselves to assure the public – and trading partners – that everything is fine.

Would the Canadian economy sink were it not for the agricultural behemoths? Probably.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says little more than a week passed from the time the most recent case of mad cow disease was first suspected to when it was confirmed and national trading partners were notified.

A timeline of the case at an Alberta farm has been released on the agency’s website.

The website says a private veterinarian took samples on February 4 at the undisclosed farm and submitted them to a provincial lab.

It says they were tested on February 6 and the lab recorded a “non-negative” test result.

The lab repeated the test the following day with the same finding and reported the case to the CFIA, where the agency conducted its own test in Lethbridge, Alta, to confirm the result.

The CFIA says it started gathering information on the animal’s herd on Tuesday, officially confirmed the case on Wednesday and posted the case to its website and notified Canada’s trading partners on Thursday.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said Friday that the infected animal was not born on the farm where it was discovered.

Ritz also said the discovery won’t affect Canada’s international beef trade because it won’t change the county’s controlled BSE risk status from the World Organization for Animal Health. He said Canada has stayed below international protocols that allow for up to a dozen BSE cases a year.

Cluster of two cases of botulism due to Clostridium baratii type F in France, November 2014

The first two cases in France of botulism due to Clostridium baratii type F were identified in November 2014, in the same family. Both cases required prolonged respiratory assistance.

Clostridium baratii type FOne of the cases had extremely high toxin serum levels and remained paralysed for two weeks. Investigations strongly supported the hypothesis of a common exposure during a family meal with high level contamination of the source. However, all analyses of leftover food remained negative.

Euro Surveill. 2015;20(6)

Castor C, Mazuet C, Saint-Leger M, Vygen S, Coutureau J, Durand M, Popoff MR, Jourdan Da Silva N.