GBS decrease due to NZ Campylobacter regulations

Monday, 13 February, 2012

Stricter regulations for fresh chicken processing in New Zealand have been linked to a significant decrease in an autoimmune condition.

A study conducted by the University of Otago has linked a 50% decrease in campylobacteriosis notifications and hospital admissions in 2007 with a 13% decrease in Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) cases in New Zealand.

Campylobacter infection can lead to GBS, an autoimmune condition affecting the nervous system, causing paralysis and sometimes life-threatening complications. A person who suffers a Campylobacter infection is 320 times more likely to be admitted to hospital with GBS within a month.

Until stricter regulations on fresh chicken processing were enforced in New Zealand in 2006, the country had the world’s highest reported rate of Campylobacter infection. Not surprisingly, it also had a high per capita rate of GBS hospitalisation.

“This result is a big plus for the health of New Zealanders as it shows, for the first time, that if you control campylobacteriosis you also cut the rate of this serious type of paralysis,” Associate Professor Michael Baker from the University of Otago said in a media release.

“Based on this research, we can say that about 25 cases of GBS a year in New Zealand were being caused by Campylobacter infection,” he commented. “This intervention is now saving New Zealand at least $60 million a year in productivity and healthcare costs.”

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