Scientists warn campylobacter outbreak at Florida golf course

Tests have found that pork got stuck in pipes used to flush water in Florida in June

Would you like to flush your golf course with pork?

Scientists in Florida have said that an outbreak of a virulent strain of campylobacter appeared in June at a golf course in the state due to human activity.

The bacteria, which causes stomach infection, was also found in garden hoses, soft-surface water tanks and golf course sprinklers. Pigs, pork rolls and sausages can make it onto golf course greens.

Scientists from the University of Florida in Jacksonville issued the findings in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The laboratories found a strain of campylobacter bacteria that was 15 times more virulent than the one seen at an unrelated commercial pork plant in Florida last year.

“What surprised us most was that there were a variety of water sources at the golf course sites that could have transmitted the pathogen, and none of them had been tested for campylobacter,” said lead researcher Adam Voorhes.

Campylobacter can survive on surfaces for 24 hours, testing revealed. However, pigs had not been present in the golf course since January.

“There have been no reported cases of the campylobacter infection occurring in Florida since pigs were removed from the commercial facility where the pig-campylobacter was seen in June,” Voorhes added.

The bacteria, which causes 26 million illnesses and 300,000 hospitalisations in the US each year, is carried on poultry and cooked meat.

Many people carry the bacteria but do not become ill. There are, however, campylobacter outbreaks in various areas of the world including the US, Canada, Australia and Japan.

A pattern of virulent, resistant campylobacter emerged in a now-closed Imperial County, California, turkey processing plant in 2010, prompting the US Department of Agriculture to ban live pig exports from the state.

It led to an outbreak of the parasite in Texas.

It was also found in salads sold in Whole Foods outlets in 2013 and in emergency medical responses for infections that spread from domestic animals to humans.

• This article was amended on 10 August 2016. The original said there was no reported case of an infection from pork on a golf course in Florida since 1 June. This has been corrected.

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