Research – A foodborne outbreak of Campylobacteriosis at a wedding – Melbourne, Australia, 2022

1 Health


Campylobacter is the most common bacterial cause of foodborne gastroenteritis in Australia; how-ever, outbreaks caused by the pathogen are relatively uncommon. In March 2022, the Victorian Department of Health was notified of a gastrointestinal illness in 20 guests following attendance at a wedding reception.

Two of these individuals were notified with laboratory-confirmed campylobacteriosis, and an investigation was undertaken to identify the source of the infection and implement strategies to prevent further illness. A case-control study was conducted to determine the likely source of infection. Cases were defined as attendees of the wedding reception, with onset of diarrhoea and/or abdominal cramping 1–10 days after attending the function. Controls were randomly selected from the remaining list of non-ill guests. Cases and controls were interviewed using a standardised, menu-based questionnaire.

Food preparation processes were documented, and food samples collected.

A total of 29 wedding guests met the case definition. Cases reported onset of illness 2–5 days fol-lowing the wedding and major symptoms included abdominal cramping (100%), diarrhoea (90%), headache (79%), and fever (62%). Two cases were hospitalised, one with ongoing secondary neu-rological sequelae.

Illness was significantly associated with consumption of a duck breast brioche canapé containing duck liver parfait (odds ratio = 2.85; 95% confidence interval: 1.03–7.86). No leftover food samples were available for testing.The investigation found that the duck canapé was the likely vehicle of infection. Consistent with the literature on Campylobacter transmission, it is likely that inadequate cooking of the duck liver for the parfait was the contributing factor that led to illness. This highlights the risks posed by undercooked poultry dishes, and shows that education of food handlers remains a priority.

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