Campylobacter is a bacterial infection that causes gastroenteritis
(‘gastro’) in humans.
Most people with Campylobacter will experience one or more of the following symptoms within 2 to 5 days of initial infection:
- diarrhoea (this may contain blood or mucous)
- stomach cramps
- nausea and vomiting.
Symptoms associated with Campylobacter infections can typically last between 2 and 10 days.
Campylobacter infection is mainly acquired by one of the following:
- Eating contaminated food, especially undercooked chicken
- Poor hygiene when handling and preparing raw chicken
- Drinking untreated water or unpasteurised (raw) milk
- Eating food (such as salad) that has been cross-contaminated with Campylobacter from raw meats/chicken
- Poor hygiene after handling young pets or having close contact with farm animals (e.g. petting)
- Person to person spread due to poor hygiene
Talk to your doctor if you think you have Campylobacter infection. Your doctor may arrange a faecal sample for testing to confirm the infection.
Most people will recover from Campylobacter with rest and fluids. In severe or complicated cases your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to reduce the duration of the illness.
If the results of the tests show that you have Campylobacter infection the doctor will provide advice and appropriate treatment.
Do not go to work or school for at least 24 hours after symptoms have finished or 48 hours if you are a food handler, child care worker, or health care worker.
Do not handle or prepare food for the family or household for at least 24 hours after symptoms have stopped.
Wash and dry your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet.
To minimise the risk of Campylobacter infection:
- Cook all poultry products thoroughly. Make sure the meat is cooked throughout (no longer pink) and any juices that run are clear.
- Wash hands with soap and warm water and dry thoroughly before preparing food, and after handling raw meat and chicken.
- Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and other foods to prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen.
- Carefully clean all cutting boards, work surfaces and utensils with detergent and hot water after preparing raw meat or chicken.
- Avoid drinking unpasteurised milk and untreated water.
- Wash hands thoroughly after handling pets, especially young kittens and puppies.
For further information on Campylobacter please contact:
- your local doctor
- community health centre
- nearest public health unit
- 13 HEALTH.