Officials with Nelson Marlborough Health are reporting an increase in campylobacteriosis cases during the past month. 24 cases have been notified to the Medical Officer of Health in the past four weeks, compared to a range of 6-16 cases in the same period over the previous five years.
A number of known risk factors for campylobacteriosis have been identified in the people affected. These are: drinking raw (unpasteurised) milk or untreated water, and contact with animals and/or nappies (diapers).
A single source cause has yet to be found and investigations are ongoing.
Campylobacteriosis is a common water and food-borne gastro-intestinal disease caused by bacteria passed on in the faeces of infected birds, animals and humans. People who are immunocompromised, elderly or very young are at higher risk of severe disease, which rarely can be fatal. Campylobacteriosis can be contracted through:
• consuming raw milk
• consuming uncooked poultry
• consuming untreated drinking water
• contact with infected pets and farm animals
• contact with nappies of infected infants
Nelson Marlborough Medical Officer of Health Dr Stephen Bridgman advises people against drinking raw milk and says that raw milk is a risky food for anyone to consume, but the following people are especially at risk of severe illness:
• young children and babies
• older people
• pregnant women
• people with a weakened immune system.