Campylobacteriosis -  Fact Sheet


What is campylobacteriosis?
Campylobacteriosis is an illness that is caused by the bacterium, Campylobacter. This bacterium affects the intestinal tract and rarely, the bloodstream. It is a common cause of diarrhea in the United States. Most cases are seen in the summer months and can occur as single cases or outbreaks.

Where are Campylobacter bacteria found?
Poultry, cattle, pigs, and sheep may carry these bacteria in their intestines. Most raw poultry meat is contaminated with Campylobacter. Puppies, kittens and other pets may also be sources of human infection.

How do these bacteria spread?
Campylobacter bacteria are generally spread by eating contaminated food, including unpasteurized milk and untreated water, or by direct contact with fecal material from infected animals. Person-to-person spread occurs occasionally, particularly from very young children.

Who gets campylobacteriosis?
Anyone can get campylobacteriosis.

What are the symptoms of campylobacteriosis?
Campylobacteriosis may cause mild or severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Traces of blood or mucus may be found in the liquid stool.

How soon do symptoms appear?
The symptoms generally appear 2 to 5 days after the exposure (range 1 – 10 days).

How long can an infected person carry Campylobacter?
Generally, infected people will pass the bacteria in their stool for a few days to a week or more.

Should an infected person be excluded from school or work?
Since the organism is passed in the stool, people with active diarrhea who are unable to control their bowel habits (infants, young children, certain handicapped individuals) should be excluded from school or work. Most infected people may return to school or work when diarrhea has ended.

What is the treatment for campylobacteriosis?
Most people infected with Campylobacter will recover on their own. Serious cases may 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 daycare, and health care workers. Since relapses occasionally occur, some physicians might treat mild cases with antibiotics to prevent a recurrence of symptoms.

 How can campylobacteriosis be prevented?

  • Always treat raw poultry, beef, and pork as if they are contaminated and handle accordingly.
  • Wrap fresh meat in plastic bags at the market to prevent blood from dripping on other foods.
  • Refrigerate foods promptly; minimize holding at room temperature.
  • Cutting boards, counters, and utensils used for preparation should be washed immediately after use to prevent cross contamination with other foods.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats.
  • Make sure the correct internal cooking temperature is reached for each type of meat, particularly when using a microwave.
  • Avoid eating raw eggs, uncooked foods with raw egg (e.g., cookie dough), or undercooked foods containing raw eggs.
  • Avoid using or drinking raw milk and untreated water.
  • Wash hands carefully before and after food preparation.
  • Make sure children, particularly those who handle pets, wash their hands.


This fact sheet is for informational purposes only. It should not be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you think that you may have this infection, or have questions about the disease described above, you should consult your health care provider.


For additional information on this disease, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.







To contact the Epidemiology and Emerging Infections Program, please call 860-509-7994.