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Campylobacter: What You Need to Know

What is a campylobacter infection?

Campylobacter infection is a type of food poisoning that affects about 1.5 million people yearly in the U.S. It's usually acquired by consuming contaminated water and foods - especially raw or undercooked poultry.

What causes Campylobacteriosis?

A campylobacter's main hosts are poultry and livestock. It lives inside the animal's digestive system and these animals can carry this bacteria with no symptoms and show no signs at all. Sometimes, a cow's udder comes into contact with infected cow manure or any other livestock feces, thereby causing an infection and contaminating the milk production of the cow. In other cases, the bacteria may reside in water and sewers.


How do you get infected with Campylobacter?

Campylobacter infections are usually the result of consuming food or water that has been contaminated with feces from a person or animal who is infected – such as raw or undercooked poultry. Reports have also claimed that Campylobacter infections result from exposure to infected animals, backyard flocks, or petting farms.  These organisms are also notorious for being able to spread through kitchens especially if the area isn't cleaned before and after food preparation.


Is campylobacter infection contagious?

No, it is not. When a person is infected with the bacteria, it is not easily transmissible. However, there is one exception. An infected person can pass on the bacteria if they do not properly wash their hands after using the bathroom and they come into contact with another person.

How does campylobacteriosis spread?

Campylobacter is not usually inherited but it can spread through unsanitary means, such as improper washing of hands after using the bathroom. A person can also get infected if they come into contact with dog or cat's pee. Most of the time, the bacteria live inside the intestines of chickens but they do not show any symptoms. When livestock and poultry are slaughtered, the bacteria can be carried down from the intestine to the meat.

Who is at risk for the infection?

There is a higher chance of campylobacter infection in babies and kids but it can happen to anyone who is older. Some studies show that it is more common in males.

When do symptoms of campylobacteriosis start and end?

Usually, the onset of a campylobacter infection starts 2 to 5 days after the person consumes Campylobacter contaminated food and will run its course after one week.

What are the symptoms of campylobacteriosis?

Like all the other foodborne illnesses, campylobacter infections usually cause severe stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting accompanied by diarrhea (often bloody).

Do campylobacter infections cause complications?

Yes, it can. Severe cases may lead to irritable bowel syndrome, temporary paralysis, and arthritis. Unfortunately for people with weakened immune systems, blood disorders, AIDS or receiving radio or chemotherapy, Campylobacter can get into the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections.

How is campylobacter diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you are infected with the bacteria, he or she may request for a stool sample to be sent to the laboratory for testing. Other times, they may request a body tissue or fluid sample from your body. The tests could either be through a culture that isolates the bacteria or a rapid diagnostic test that detects any genetic material of the bacteria.

How is campylobacter treated?

Most of the time, a person can recover from a campylobacter infection without any need for antibiotic treatment. Doctors always recommend that the best way to cope with the illness is to drink extra liquids to replenesh fluids lost from the vomiting and diarrhea.

Although, those who have pre-existing comorbidities might need antibiotic treatment. These people include adults who are 65 years or older, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems (blood disorders, AIDS or those receiving radio or chemotherapy).

Some types of antibiotics may not work for other types of campylobacter. So it is definitely recommended that you visit your local hospital in order to determine the effective type of antibiotic through your laboratory test results.

Do infected people need to be isolated from work or school?

Only people with diarrhea should be isolated as the bacteria from their feces could potentially make its way into other surfaces or they could come into physical contact with a non-infected person.

How do you prevent the infection of campylobacter?

Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water can rid of any Campylobacter bacteria and other harmful germs that are on your hands especially after using the bathroom, before and after preparing food and handling dirty items.

Keep raw poultry away from other foods such as other meats or vegetables and fruits. You can make use of separate cutting boards or kitchen accessories or you can clean them properly before using it again. Do not forget to clean kitchen counter tops before and after using as well.

All poultry and foods containing poultry should be cooked to reach a minimum temperature of 165°F. To be sure, in case you are served with undercooked poultry at a restaurant, you can request for it to be sent back to the kitchen to be thoroughly cooked.

Raw milk can carry Campylobacter bacteria and other harmful germs that can make you ill. It is always best to consume pasteurized milk as this rids of the milk from any contaminants.

Do not drink water if you do not know where the source is. Do not drink water from a stream, river, pond, or lake or bodies of water that are open to various types of contaminants.

As animals are also linked with Campylobacter, a good tip is to ensure that they visit the vet regularly and feed them with nutritional food and clean water.
Read more

Recent Campylobacter Reports

2/21/23, Some sort of food most likely from this restaurant I was rushed to the ER on 2/22 and confirmed to have Campylobacter Bacteria | Symptoms: Diarrhea, Nausea, Vomiting See Less

I bought the halal chicken at here and was hospitalised with food poisoning for 5 days. I will never shop there again and will report them at every avenue. I ended up with acute campylovacter and hospitalised for a week. | Symptoms: Diarrhea See Less

My husband and I ate from here late thursday night, February 16, 2023. We started to feel stomach aches through the night thursday. By friday morning we were still feeling gassy stomachs and unwell, he had a few rounds of diarrhea and just an unwell feeling stomach... See More friday. I had over 10 rounds of diarrhea friday and over 40 rounds on saturday. I was also throwing up every few hours and could not hold down more than one cracker per day. By Sunday morning at 5am I was in the hospital for dehydration. My electrolytes were all out of whack, I was My stool specimen came back positive for Campy. I am still pretty miserable today (Monday) but am much better due to all the medications at the hospital. | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting, Dehydration, Gas See Less

Confirmed food poisoning via a stools test from doctors: Enteric Campylobacterpsis which is caused from raw unhygienic chicken.

Symptoms: Diarrhoea, Fever, Stomach Pain, Chills, Headache

Source: Breaded chicken from their restaurant Ludova.

Onset: Less than 4 hours

Duration: 10 days | Symptoms: Diarrhea, Fever, Headache, Chills, Stomach Pain See Less

I found myself very sick in 2018 after I had their Cheese & Ham Fresh British Chicken Breaded Kyiv x2 260g. I had vomit, diarrhea, very high temperature and dizziness for more than a week and I sent to my doctor some stool samples to test and... See More it results that I had in my system a bacteria called campylobacter. I didn’t report it because I wasn’t sure it was been given to me by this their product. But today after almost 5 years it happened again after a couple of days I had Sainsbury's Cheese & Ham Fresh British Chicken Breaded Kyiv x2 260g I have tasted positive again to campylobacter. Once again I found myself stuck in bed with terrifying cramps, vomit and diarrhea and temperature at 39. Clearly none of those times I could work. | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting, Cramps, Dizziness, Fever See Less

Only chicken I've had in a while because I mostly eat only fish. Was hospitalised on Christmas day and spent 5 days with severe colitis as the result of Campylobacter poisoning. Could have only come from here. | Symptoms: Diarrhea See Less

I ate the chicken thighs (red Thai risotto dish) provided here on the 15th December 2022. The next day entailed, vomiting, diarrhoea, flu, night sweats, which carried on severely until 20th December, I was bed bound the entire time and could barely move. The doctors today confirmed... See More I have Campylobacter food poisoning. Great! | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting, Night Sweats See Less

I ate chicken mini chimis and pollo fundido from here on 12/7/2022 and contracted campylobacter and was hospitalized with colitis and sepsis. | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea See Less

Last 30 days