What is campylobacteriosis?

Campylobacteriosis is an infection of the intestines that may spread to the blood stream. It is caused by the bacteria (germs) Campylobacter. Prolonged illness, with relapses, may occur in adults. Campylobacteriosis is most frequently seen in the summer and early fall. For data on campylobacteriosis in New York City visit EpiQuery.

Who gets campylobacteriosis?

Anyone can get campylobacteriosis.

How is campylobacteriosis spread?

Campylobacter germs are generally spread by eating or drinking contaminated water or foods (especially undercooked poultry or pork), or by contact with infected animals. Many animals including swine (pigs), cattle, dogs, and birds (particularly poultry) carry the bacteria in their intestines. Person to person spread is uncommon

What are the symptoms of campylobacteriosis?

Campylobacteriosis may cause mild or severe diarrhea (traces of blood may be found in the stool). Other symptoms include: fever, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

How soon after infection do symptoms appear?

The symptoms generally appear two to five days after exposure.

How is campylobacteriosis diagnosed?

Campylobacteriosis is diagnosed by isolating the bacteria from the patient's stool (feces).

What is the treatment for campylobacteriosis?

Most people with campylobacteriosis will recover on their own, and only require fluids to prevent dehydration. Antibiotics are occasionally used to treat severe cases or to shorten the carrier phase, which may be important for food handlers, children in day care, and health care workers. Since relapses occasionally occur, some physicians may treat mild cases with antibiotics to prevent a recurrence of symptoms.

How long can a person carry the Campylobacter bacteria?

Generally, infected people will continue to pass the bacteria in their stool for a few days to a week or more. Certain antibiotics may shorten the carrier phase.

Should an infected person be excluded from work or school?

Since the Campylobacter bacteria are passed in the stool (feces), only people with active diarrhea who are unable to control their bowel habits (e.g., infants, young children, and certain handicapped individuals) should be isolated. Most infected people may return to work or school when their stools become formed as long as they wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet. Food handlers, children in day care, and health care workers must obtain approval from the Health Department before returning to their routine activities. This requires follow-up stool testing to be sure that they are no longer infectious.

How can campylobacteriosis be prevented?

Always treat raw poultry, beef, and pork as if they are potentially contaminated and handle accordingly:

Keep your food safe from bacteria.

  • Wrap fresh meats in plastic bags at the market to prevent blood from dripping on other foods.
  • Refrigerate foods promptly; minimize holding at room temperature.
  • Cutting boards and counters used for preparation should be washed immediately after use to prevent cross contamination with other foods.
  • Ensure that the correct internal cooking temperatures are reached, particularly when using a microwave.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats.
  • Avoid eating raw eggs or undercooking food containing raw eggs.
  • Avoid using raw milk.

Wash hands often.

  • Always thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm running water before touching food, feeding infants, and after handling raw meat.
  • Encourage careful hand washing with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers, and before and after food preparation.
  • Make sure children, particularly those who handle pets, wash their hands carefully.

Last updated March 2012