Epidemiology and Infection

Research Article

A multi-centre prospective case-control study of campylobacter infection in persons aged 5 years and older in Australia

R. J. STAFFORDa1a2 c1, P. SCHLUTERa2a3, M. KIRKa4, A. WILSONa2a5, L. UNICOMBa6, R. ASHBOLTa7, J. GREGORYa8 and the OzFoodNet Working Group

a1 OzFoodNet (Queensland), Communicable Diseases Unit, Queensland Health, Brisbane, Australia

a2 School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

a3 Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand

a4 OzFoodNet, Office of Health Protection, Department of Health and Ageing, Canberra, Australia

a5 Health Policy, Planning and Resources, Queensland Health, Brisbane, Australia

a6 OzFoodNet, Hunter New England Population Health, Wallsend, New South Wales, Australia

a7 OzFoodNet (Tasmania), Public and Environmental Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services, Hobart, Australia

a8 OzFoodNet (Victoria), Communicable Disease Control Section, Victorian Department of Human Services, Melbourne, Australia


There are an estimated 277 000 cases of campylobacteriosis in Australia each year, most of which are thought to be sporadically acquired. To explore causes for these infections, we conducted a multi-centre case-control study of patients and community controls across five Australian States during 2001–2002. A total of 881 campylobacter cases and 833 controls aged xs2A7E5 years were recruited into the study. Crude logistic analyses were conducted within various food and non-food exposure groups. A final most parsimonious multivariable logistic regression model was developed and adjusted odds ratios (aOR), 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were derived together with adjusted population attributable risks (PAR). Consumption of undercooked chicken (aOR 4·7, 95% CI 2·6–8·4) and offal (aOR 2·0, 95% CI 1·0–4·0), ownership of domestic chickens aged <6 months (aOR 12·4, 95% CI 2·6–59·3) and domestic dogs aged <6 months (aOR 2·1, 95% CI 1·1–4·2) were found to be independent risk factors for illness in the final model. The PAR proportions indicate that eating chicken meat, either cooked or undercooked may account for approximately 30% of campylobacter cases that occur each year in Australia. These results justify the continued need for education of consumers and foodhandlers about the risks associated with the handling of raw chicken and the potential for cross-contamination.

(Accepted October 04 2006)

(Online publication November 30 2006)


c1 Author for correspondence: R. J. Stafford, OzFoodNet (Queensland), Communicable Diseases Unit, Queensland Health, GPO Box 48, Brisbane, Queensland 4001, Australia. (Email: russell_stafford@health.qld.gov.au)


† Members of the OzFoodNet Working Group are given in the Appendix.