Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States. Campylobacter is an infection caused by a bacteria. Most Campylobacter outbreaks are associated with raw (unpasteurized) milk or contaminated drinking water. People can get Campylobacter by:
If you think you have Campylobacter, talk to a health care provider. They may collect stool, body tissue or fluids. A laboratory test can detect Campylobacter bacteria in these samples.
Symptoms of Campylobacter typically last one week and include:
Many people recover from Campylobacter within a week without treatment. Some people may need antibiotics if they are seriously sick or are at risk for serious illness.
In rare cases, Campylobacter can lead to Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). GBS occurs when an infection triggers a reaction from a person's immune system. GBS causes muscle weakness or paralysis that can last for weeks. Find more information about Guillain-Barré syndrome here.
Wash your hands. Campylobacter bacteria can survive on your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water:
- Before preparing food
- Before eating food
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- After touching pets and other animals
- After touching garbage
Keep certain foods separated. Keep raw poultry away from other foods:
- Use one cutting board for raw meat (including poultry, seafood, and beef).
- Use another cutting board for fresh fruits and vegetables, and other foods.
- Clean all utensils after preparing any type of raw meat with soap and hot water. This includes cutting boards, countertops, and other utensils.
Cook food to the right temperature. Be sure to cook poultry to the correct temperature. Undercooked poultry is one of the top causes of Campylobacter illness in the United States.
- Cook all poultry and foods containing poultry to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F
Drink pasteurized milk. Raw (unpasteurized) milk can carry Campylobacter bacteria and can make you very sick. The risk of getting sick from drinking raw milk is greater for:
- Infants and young children
- Adults aged 65 and older
- Pregnant women
- People with weakened immune systems
Do not drink untreated water. Untreated water can have harmful germs in it. Know where your drinking water comes from and if it is safe to drink.
- Do not drink untreated water from a stream, river, pond, or lake
- Be sure wells are located a safe distance from possible sources of contamination
Take care with pets. Pets sometimes carry Campylobacter and other germs that can make you sick. Find more information here.