Journal of Hygiene

Research Article

Epidemiological investigations on Campylobacter jejuni in households with a primary infection

J. Oosteroma1, C. H. den Uyla2, J. R. J. Bänffera3 and J. Huismana4

a1 Laboratory for Water and Food Microbiology, National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Hygiene, P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands

a2 University of Agriculture, Laboratory for Food Microbiology and Hygiene, de Dreyen 12, 6703 BC Wageningen, The Netherlands

a3 Laboratory for Epidemiological Bacteriology, Municipal Public Health Service, P.O. Box 333, 3000 AH Rotterdam, The Netherlands

a4 Department of Infectious Diseases and Hygiene, Municipal Public Health Service, P.O. Box 70032, 3000 LP Rotterdam, The Netherlands


Fifty-four Rotterdam patients in which a primary infection with Campylobacter jejuni had been detected (index patients) were compared with 54 control subjects with regard to the consumption and preparation of foods 7 days before onset of illness and the keeping of pet animals. Significantly more index patients than controls had eaten chicken meat (47 v. 29; P = 0·0002), particularly at barbecues (14 v. 2; P = 0·0015). Marginally more index patients had eaten pork (47 v. 39; P = 0·048) or inadequately heated meat (13 v. 8), though in the last case numbers were too small to be statistically significant. The consumption of beef or mutton and outdoor eating (other than at barbecues) were essentially the same in both groups. There was no significant association with the keeping of pet animals, although a few more index patients had cage birds than controls (18 v. 12).

Twenty-one (15%) of 130 household contacts of index patients also suffered from diarrhoea during the same period. Circumstantial evidence pointed to a common source of infection with the index patient in 13 instances (nine households) and probable intrafamilial spread of infection in six instances.

Campylobacters were isolated from one of 110 swabs of kitchen work surfaces and eight of 107 swabs taken from lavatory bowls in index households.

(Received September 01 1983)

(Accepted May 14 1984)