Between March, 2002, and March, 2003, Washington State Department of Health (WDOH) identified five clusters of Campylobacter jejuni infections among inmates and staff at the Washington State Penitentiary. Over one-hundred inmates tested positive for Campylobacter jejuni in these clusters. Genetic testing, completed through a process termed pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), revealed that all of the individuals’ Campylobacter jejuni isolates were genetically indistinguishable.
Investigation by WDOH and CDC identified, among other things, a causal connection between a drain contaminated with pigeon feces on the roof and a leaking, uncapped pipe in the kitchen salad preparation area at the WSP. Other potential or specific causes of the contamination, including poor food-handling practices, were also documented as part of the investigation.