The Department of Health investigates a possible outbreak of food-borne illness in Brooklyn

City health officials are investigating a potential Brooklyn outbreak of campylobacter, a bacterial infection that causes flu-like stomach symptoms.

Campylobacter is a gastrointestinal insect that can result from eating raw or undercooked poultry or anything that comes in contact with it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People can also get it from contact with animals that carry the bacteria and by drinking contaminated water.

In Brooklyn, health officials said about 50 cases have been reported in the district since the beginning of the month. A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) declined to specify in detail which neighborhoods saw the peak.

A health expert said many more cases are likely to have gone undiagnosed.

“Whenever there is an outbreak of some kind of foodborne illness, most likely, when you see the actual number of reported cases, you underestimate and, in some cases, greatly underestimate the actual number of cases that have occurred. “, said Dr. Bruce Y. Lee, professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

People suffering from diarrhea, often bloody or fever, key symptoms of Campylobacter, may not see a doctor. And even if they did, the doctor might not test the stool for bacteria. This is the primary way doctors detect the genetic material of bacteria.

Unlike COVID, it cannot be discovered in the city sewer system and does not typically spread from one person to another. Most people recover in about a week without antibiotics.

The Brooklyn outbreak comes as the number of similar spikes across the country is on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The average number of outbreaks reported each year from 2004 to 2009 was 22; there were 31 from 2010 to 2012 and 29 from 2013 to 2017, “according to the CDC.

More cases are likely to never actually be reported, says the CDC, which estimates that “Campylobacter affects 1.5 million US residents each year.”

People with stomach infections typically begin experiencing symptoms two to five days after exposure and last for about a week, according to the World Health Organization. The infection causes fever, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

They are generally not life threatening, but they can be very young and old, and people with compromised immune systems. In a small percentage of people, the infection can spread to the bloodstream and cause other ailments such as arthritis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, or irritable bowel syndrome.

Last month, some infected people were briefly hospitalized after a recent Baltimore outbreak linked to a multi-food stand event.

In Brooklyn, health officials are still trying to find the cause of the outbreak, according to DOHMH spokesman Patrick Gallahue.

That process could take weeks or even months, according to Lee, who created the computer predictions used by federal officials to address the H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic in 2009.

First, city health officials must hurry to identify as many people with the infection as possible. These people are then given questionnaires so that health officials can understand some of the common food sources.

“It can take some time to actually figure things out and whether a contaminated food source needs to be removed from the market,” Lee said.

In a multistatal outbreak, infections were linked to contact with puppies in pet stories, according to lab reports cited by the CDC. Fifty-six people, many of whom worked in shops selling puppies, were infected from January 2019 to March 2021, the CDC reported.

Most of the outbreaks have been linked to poultry, unpasteurized dairy products, seafood and untreated water. The bacterium is more common in countries with limited resources, and about in five infections reported to the CDC’s FoodNet are traced to people traveling, according to the federal agency.

New York residents experiencing symptoms should contact their doctors, Dr. Lee said.

Lynn Schulman (D-Queens), chair of the city council health committee, said she was briefed by DOHMH officials about the latest outbreak.

“This just shows how constantly we need to be vigilant from COVID,” he said. “We need to have a comprehensive plan for dealing with this kind of thing.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *