Research – What is Campylobacter gastroenteritis?

Medical News Today

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Campylobacter gastroenteritis is a common intestinal infection that occurs due to Campylobacter bacteria.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Campylobacter bacteria are the most common bacterial cause of diarrheal illness, affecting 1.5 million people in the United States each year.

The bacteria may be present in the meat or milk of an animal or pass to water or produce through feces or contact with infected meat.

Campylobacter gastroenteritis can lead to symptoms such as:

The World Health Organization (WHO)states that infections are typically mild and will subside on their own. However, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems have a higher risk of developing severe illness.


Campylobacter gastroenteritis occurs when a person comes into contact with Campylobacter bacteria.

The WHO notes that Campylobacter bacteria are present in many animals, including:

  • poultry
  • pigs
  • cattle
  • sheep
  • ostriches
  • shellfish

They can also be present in pets, such as cats and dogs.

The main route of exposure is through eating undercooked meat. When an animal is slaughtered, the bacteria from the feces can contaminate the meat.

People can also come into contact with the bacteria via:

  • raw or unpasteurized milk
  • contaminated water and ice
  • unwashed fruits and vegetables

Milk can become contaminated when Campylobacter bacteria are present in the udder. Fruits and vegetables can become contaminated if they come into contact with water or soil that contains animal feces.

Rarely, the condition is a result of exposure to contaminated water during recreation such as swimming. Lakes and streams can become contaminated with animal faeces.

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