Summer Heights High and an Australian boarding school campylobacter outbreak

When someone says Australian boarding school, all I can think of is the highlarious television show, Summer Heights High.

Some researchers from Canberra report in the current issue of Foodborne Pathogens and Disease about an outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni gastroenteritis at an Australian boarding school.

Thirty-five cases of gastroenteritis were recorded among 58 questionnaire respondents, with 14 of 18 persons submitting fecal samples having confirmed C. jejuni infections. Attendance at one evening meal was statistically associated with illness (ratio of proportions of 3.09; 95% confidence intervals: 1.21, 14.09; p = 0.02). There was no statistically significant association between any single food provided at the implicated evening meal and illness, suggesting that the potential cause of the outbreak was a cross-contamination event.

The study highlights the potential of cross-contamination as a cause of epidemic campylobacteriosis. The application of molecular techniques to aid epidemiological investigation of recognized C. jejuni outbreaks is illustrated.