Stanislaus County Health Services Agency

What is campylobacteriosis?

It is an infection caused by the bacteria called campylobacter.

Incubation period: 1 –10 days (usually 3 – 5 days) after exposure to the bacteria.

Symptoms can include:

  • Diarrhea or loose stools
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Headaches
Duration: 1 – 4 days, occasionally up to 10 days

How long is an infected person contagious?

An infected person can always spread the disease to others while they have symptoms and usually for several days up to 7 weeks after the symptoms are gone.

How is the illness treated?

Usually no treatment is indicated except replacement of water and salts. In severe illness and in the very weak, antibiotics should be given as prescribed by a physician.

This illness is uncomfortable and even disabling for several days, but deaths are rare. These infections are diagnosed when a stool specimen is sent to the laboratory, cultured using a special technique for campylobacter and the bacterium is found. It may affect between 2 and 4 million Americans every year.

The most common source of campylobacter infections is contaminated poultry meat. One third to one half of all raw chicken in the market has campylobacter organisms on it. People become sick when they eat undercooked chicken, or when they inadvertently transfer the organisms from raw meat or raw meat drippings to their mouth. Simple measures will help prevent people from getting this infection.

How is campylobacteriosis transmitted?

  • Eating undercooked chicken
  • Transfer organisms from raw meats or raw meat drippings to the mouth
  • Drinking raw, unpasteurized milk
  • Drinking untreated drinking waters,e.g., mountain streams
  • Contact with infected dogs/cats etc.
  • Occasionally from another person with the infection through the "fecal oral" route (bacteria are passed in the stool of an infected person and enters the mouth of another)
  • Handling of live poultry

Some tips for preventing campylobacteriosis

  • Avoid consuming unpasteurized milk and untreated surface water
  • Wash raw fruits and vegetables
  • Cook all poultry thoroughly
  • Wash kitchen utensils (cutting board, knives et.) well with hot soapy water each use
  • Food handlers, health or child care workers must not work if they have diarrhea
  • Make sure that persons with diarrhea, especially children, wash their hands carefully and frequently with soap to reduce the risk of spreading the infection
  • Wash hands after having contact with pet feces
  • Before traveling out of the country, consult with your health department about precautions to take regarding food and water

For further information contact:

Stanislaus County Health Services Agency

(209) 558-5678

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