Campylobacteriosis is an illness caused by bacteria called Campylobacter. People can get sick with campylobacteriosis by eating food or drinking liquids that have been contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria, or by having contact with animals or people who are already infected with Campylobacter. Symptoms typically begin two to five days after contact with the bacteria. Symptoms include nausea, stomach cramps, fever, and diarrhea (which can sometimes be bloody). The illness can last up to a week and most people recover completely, although sometimes people are sick enough with campylobacteriosis to be hospitalized.
Campylobacteriosis is the most commonly reported foodborne disease in Vermont. Between 2010 and 2015, an average of 185 Vermonters per year with campylobacteriosis were reported to the Vermont Department of Health. This gives our state one of the highest rates of Campylobacter infection in the U.S. In 2013, the average rate of campylobacteriosis across the country was 13.82 infections per 100,000 people. That same year, Vermont’s rate of infection was 29.35 infections per 100,000 people.
Sometimes Campylobacter can cause outbreaks, where many people get sick at the same time. In Vermont, recent outbreaks of campylobacteriosis have been associated with drinking unpasteurized milk, eating undercooked chicken livers, or having contact with an infected animal. For more information on an outbreak of campylobacteriosis associated with chicken liver consumption, read this article from the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
People who may be sick with campylobacteriosis should contact their health care provider so that they can be tested and treated. Since Campylobacter bacteria can also be passed from one person to another, people with campylobacteriosis should stay home from school or work – particularly if they are a food handler, health care worker or day care provider – until their symptoms have been gone for at least 24 hours. Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water is also an effective way to prevent the spread of Campylobacter.