Campylobacteriosis is an infectious disease caused by Campylobacter bacteria.
Campylobacteriosis is associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry meat or from cross-contamination of other foods by these items. Infants may get the infection by contact with poultry packages in shopping carts. Outbreaks of Campylobacter are usually associated with unpasteurized milk or contaminated water. Animals can also be infected, and some people have acquired their infection from contact with the stool of an ill dog or cat. The organism is not usually spread from one person to another, but this can happen if the infected person is producing a large volume of diarrhea.
Most people who become ill with campylobacteriosis get diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within two to five days after exposure to the organism. The diarrhea may be bloody and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The illness typically lasts one week. Some infected persons do not have any symptoms. In persons with compromised immune systems, Campylobacter occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a serious life-threatening infection.
Treatment & Prevention
Almost all persons infected with Campylobacter recover without any specific treatment. Patients should drink extra fluids as long as the diarrhea lasts. In more severe cases, antibiotics such as azithromycin or erythromycin can shorten the duration of symptoms if given early in the illness. Your doctor will decide whether antibiotics are necessary.
Some simple food-handling practices can help prevent Campylobacter infections.
- Cook all poultry products thoroughly. Make sure that the meat is cooked throughout (no longer pink) and that any juices run clear. All poultry should be cooked to reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.
- If you are served undercooked poultry in a restaurant, send it back for further cooking.
- Wash hands with soap before preparing food.
- Wash hands with soap after handling raw foods of animal origin and before touching anything else.
- Prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen by using separate cutting boards for foods of animal origin and other foods and by carefully cleaning all cutting boards, countertops, and utensils with soap and hot water after preparing raw food of animal origin.
- Avoid consuming unpasteurized milk and untreated surface water.
- 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 with soap after contact with pet feces.
Physicians who diagnose campylobacteriosis and clinical laboratories that identify this organism should report their findings to the local health department. If many cases occur at the same time, it may mean that many people were exposed to a common contaminated food item or water source which might still be available to infect more people. When outbreaks occur, community education efforts can be directed toward proper food handling techniques, and toward avoiding consumption of raw (not pasteurized) milk.
Recent Texas Trends
There was an increase in campylobacteriosis cases reported in Texas over the past decade with a drop in cases in 2020. From 2010-2019, the number of campylobacteriosis cases reported in Texas ranged from a low of 1,741 cases (6.7 cases per 100,000 population) in 2011 to a high of 5,449 cases (18.9 cases per 100,000 population) in 2017. The dramatic increase in reported cases in 2015 (3,944) from 2014 (2,589) may be due to allowing new testing methods in confirming a case. 2015 was the first full year that non-cultured tests were included in the case definition.