Campylobacteriosis is a water and foodborne illness caused by bacteria called campylobacter.
It is a common cause of tummy upsets (gastroenteritis). When people eat food or water that has campylobacter in it they can become unwell with diarrhoea and stomach pains.
The most common way to become infected is by eating raw or undercooked chicken or other poultry foods. The bug can also be spread to people through the faeces (poo) of infected birds, animals and household contacts, or by drinking contaminated water.
If you are concerned about campylobacter infection, call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or see your doctor or practice nurse.
You can get campylobacter from foods that are contaminated with the bacteria, such as chicken, meat, eggs, milk, fruit and vegetables. People or animals infected with campylobacter can pass it on in their faeces into soil, water and food. The bacteria can also survive on surfaces such as toys, bathroom taps or doors and nappy change tables. You get infected by swallowing the bacteria. Roof water supplies can easily become infected from birds sitting on the roof.
To help stop campylobacter spreading, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use a hand-sanitising gel. If you have a roof water supply it is important that this is regularly maintained.
Campylobacteriosis symptoms can include diarrhoea (runny poo), stomach pain or cramps, and feeling or being sick (nausea and vomiting).
Symptoms usually appear two to five days after exposure. Symptoms can last for up to 10 days.
Some people do not get any symptoms. Others get a flu-like illness first, such as headache, muscle pains, fever and fatigue.
Most people recover from the illness within one week.
The best way to prevent campylobacter infection is to:
If you think you have a campylobacter infection, see your doctor - who may ask you to provide a faecal (poo) specimen for testing.
Stay away from school, early childhood centres or work until two days after the symptoms have stopped.
Don’t go swimming in a pool if you have diarrhoea. You need to wait until at least two weeks after the symptoms have gone.
Campylobacteriosis is a notifiable disease. This means that health professionals (e.g. GPs) or laboratories will inform us when someone has it. This allows us to monitor the number of people who have the disease and give advice on how to reduce its spread.
Last updated 23.11.2022