Atlas of foodborne infections
transmitted by contaminated food and water

Atlas of Patogens Contents Information sources Glossary Administration

Campylobacter jejuni

CZ: kampylobakter
EN: campylobacter

Meat and Meat Products
Milk and Milk Products
Water and Beverages


Foodborne Disease:
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campylobacteriosis - symptoms (after eating)2-10 days severe diarrhoea (possibly bloody), cramps, abdominal pain and fever rare develop disease that affects the nerves - Guillain-Barré syndromeh. Headache lasting 1-10 days.


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The Campylobacter organism is actually a group of spiral-shaped bacteria that can cause disease campylobacteriosis in humans and animals.

Campylobacter jejuni grows best at the body temperature of a bird, and seems to be well adapted to birds, which carry it without becoming ill. The bacterium is fragile. It cannot tolerate drying and can be killed by oxygen. Freezing reduces the number of Campylobacter bacteria present on raw meat.

Most people who become ill with campylobacteriosis get diarrhoea, cramping, abdominal pain and fever within 2 to 5 days after exposure to the organism. The diarrhoea may be bloody and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Most people who get campylobacteriosis recover completely within 2 to 5 days, campylobacteriosis occurs much more frequently in the summer months than in the winter. Some people may have arthritis following campylobacteriosis; others may develop a rare disease that affects the nerves - this disease, called Guillain-Barré syndrome, occurs when a person’s immune system is “triggered” to attack the body’s own nerves, and can lead to paralysis that lasts several weeks and usually requires intensive care.

Most cases of campylobacteriosis are associated with handling raw poultry or eating raw or undercooked poultry meat. Even one drop of juice from raw chicken meat can infect a person! Larger outbreaks due to Campylobacter are usually related to drinking unpasteurized milk or contaminated water. Surface water and mountain streams can become contaminated from infected faeces from cows or wild birds. This infection is common in the developing world.

Campylobacter can be easily spread from bird to bird through a common water source or through contact with infected faeces.

Prevention: Don't drink untreated water or unpasteurised milk. Wash hands, utensils and surfaces that touch raw poultry or meat. Thoroughly cook meat, poultry, and seafood.


Source: A magnified view of Campylobacter bacteria - scan microscopy
Source: Detail of Campylobacter colonies on the agar
Source: Modes of Campylobacter transmission
Source: Poultry meat - source of bacterial infection

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