Research – Investigating the Campylobacter enteritis winter peak in Germany, 2018/2019

Campylobacter kswfoodworld

Surveillance of notified Campylobacter enteritis in Germany revealed a recurrent annual increase of cases with disease onset several days after the Christmas and New Year holidays (“winter peak”). We suspected that handling and consumption of chicken meat during fondue and raclette grill meals on the holidays were associated with winter peak Campylobacter infections. The hypothesis was investigated in a case–control study with a case-case design where notified Campylobacter enteritis cases served as case-patients as well as control-patients, depending on their date of disease onset (case-patients: 25/12/2018 to 08/01/2019; control-patients: any other date between 30/11/2018 and 28/02/2019). The study was conducted as an online survey from 21/01/2019 to 18/03/2019. Adjusted odds ratios (aOR) were determined in single-variable logistic regression analyses adjusted for age group and sex. We analysed 182 data sets from case-patients and 260 from control-patients and found associations of Campylobacter infections after the holidays with meat fondue (aOR 2.2; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2–3.8) and raclette grill meals with meat (aOR 1.5; 95% CI 1.0–2.4) consumed on the holidays. The associations were stronger when chicken meat was served at these meals (fondue with chicken meat: aOR 2.7; 95% CI 1.4–5.5; raclette grill meal with chicken meat: aOR 2.3; 95% CI 1.3–4.1). The results confirmed our initial hypothesis. To prevent Campylobacter winter peak cases in the future, consumers should be made more aware of the risks of a Campylobacter infection when handling raw meat, in particular chicken, during fondue or raclette grill meals on the holidays.

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