Fondue could be the cause of the winter peak…

In Germany, according to a study, the consumption of meat fondues and raclette grills contribute to the annual seasonal peak in cases of Campylobacteriosis. Germany recorded 46,500 cases in 2020, most between June and September. However, there is a recurring increase showing a peak with disease onset several days after Christmas and another peak during the New Year holidays. It is not related to overseas travel or reporting delays. , according to the research.

A sharp increase in reported cases of Campylobacter with onset of the disease after the Christmas holidays, on December 27 or 28, with 70 to 136 cases per day, and after the New Year holidays, from January 3 to 5, with 81 to 238 cases per day, was observed every year.

A similar increase in Campylobacter in winter has also been observed in Switzerland and other European countries, linked to meat fondue or table grill meals where the meat is heated at the table.
During these meals, raw meat is usually handled directly at the table and touched with bare hands and often includes chicken meat, which may be contaminated with Campylobacter.

Reminders on the campylobacteriosis

The bacterium Campylobacter is a major cause of foodborne diarrheal disease in humans and the most common bacterial cause of gastroenteritis worldwide. Genre Campylobacter covers several species and subspecies, of which the most frequently reported to cause human disease are Campylobacter jejuni (subspecies jejuni) and C. coli. Species of the genus Campylobacter are found in the digestive tract of most warm-blooded animals. They are present in food animals such as poultry, cattle, pigs, sheep, ostriches and shellfish, and in pets such as dogs and cats.

The main route of transmission is through food and through the consumption of undercooked meat and meat products or contaminated raw milk. Contaminated water or ice are also sources of infection. A certain proportion of cases result from contact with contaminated water during recreational activities.

Symptoms of this disease usually appear two to five days after infection, but the length of the incubation period can range from one to ten days. Clinical symptoms include diarrhea (often with blood in the stool), abdominal pain, fever, headache, nausea and/or vomiting. These symptoms usually last between three and six days. Deaths are rare and usually only concern very young children and the elderly or people already suffering from another serious illness.
The treatment of infections Campylobacter consists mainly of the rehydration of patients. The use of antibiotics is not recommended in the case of moderate enteritis, but may be a solution for severe or prolonged cases or for immunocompromised patients or patients with an underlying disease, or for pregnant women. Under these conditions, the infection can be treated with erythromycin, tetracyclines or fluoroquinolones.

The individual prevention of campylobacteriosis is based on a set of hygiene measures

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before eating, before preparing a meal, after having been in contact with animals or their food or droppings, after touching your animal’s personal effects (toys… ) or its habitat (cushion, cages, tanks, chicken coops …), before and after taking care of a person with diarrhea, after using the toilet, after changing diapers or cleaning a child who has used the toilet, after touching rubbish. Adults should supervise the handwashing of young children;
  • Follow good hygiene practices in the kitchen, including washing hands and washing utensils on a regular basis; wash fruits and vegetables carefully with drinking water before consuming them; cleaning kitchen surfaces and utensils after handling poultry or raw meat; use a board dedicated to cutting raw meat and clean the cutting boards and utensils used for the preparation of raw meat without delay;
  • Respect the food storage rules: keep poultry or raw meat in the refrigerator separate from food eaten raw or prepared meals; respect the conservation recommendations prescribed on the labeling, in particular the use-by date; regularly check that the temperature of the refrigerator is correct and clean it regularly.
  • Respect the rules of cooking: the consumption of raw poultry meat must be prohibited; cook poultry, beef and pork sufficiently (through cooking, > 65°C), which destroys Campylobacter; when cooking on the barbecue, and as a general rule, check that the flesh of the chicken is not pink and that there is no trace of blood.

Source : Food Safety News.

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