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Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Campylobacter Outbreak Associated with Certified Raw Milk Products -- California

On May 31, 1984, 28 kindergarten children and seven adults from a private school of 240 students in Whittier, California, visited a certified raw milk (CRM) bottling plant in southern California, where they were given ice cream, kefir, and CRM. Three to 6 days later, several of the group began to experience fever and gastroenteritis. Ultimately, nine children and three adults became ill, and most of them were absent from school. Studies on stools from these 12 individuals for routine bacterial pathogens showed nine positive and three negative for Campylobacter jejuni. Stools were obtained from nine non-ill children in another kindergarten class; these stools did not yield C. jejuni. The only common foods these children (ill and non-ill) ate were hamburgers, which are provided every Thursday to their school by a fast-food hamburger chain. No one else in the school became sick. Reported in Public Health Letter 1984;6, Los Angeles County Dept of Human Svcs, California Morbidity (June 15, 1984), California Dept of Health Svcs; Enteric Diseases Br, Div of Bacterial Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: Other Campylobacter outbreaks have been linked to consumption of raw milk, including CRM (1). In June 1984, 17 members of a kindergarten class on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, visited a raw milk dairy; 13 drank raw milk. Nine persons became ill a median of 4 days after visiting the dairy. Stools from 10 persons were cultured; three yielded C. jejuni; four did not; the results of three are still pending (2). During 1983, two outbreaks of campylobacteriosis followed consumption of raw milk on school-sponsored outings in Pennsylvania (3). Similar outbreaks also occurred in 1981 and 1982 in Michigan, Minnesota, and Vermont. Technology does not presently exist to prevent contamination of raw milk supplies by Campylobacter, which is present in the intestinal tracts of about 40% of dairy cattle (4). Although infection may be more common than recognized, episodes of illness often are not well documented.


  1. Potter ME, Blaser MJ, Sikes RK, Kaufmann AF, Wells JG. Human Campylobacter infection associated with certified raw milk. Am J Epidemiol 1983;117:475-83.

  2. Kindergarten field trip to a farm, June 25, 1984, Vancouver Island. Disease Surveillance, British Columbia 1984;5:201-3.

  3. CDC. Campylobacteriosis associated with raw milk consumption--Pennsylvania. MMWR 1983;32:337-8, 344.

  4. Martin WT, Patton CM, Morris GK, Potter ME, Puhr ND. Selective enrichment broth medium for isolation of Campylobacter jejuni. J Clin Microbio 1983;17:853-5.

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