Campylobacter infection is a water- and food-borne gastro illness that can cause diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

Campylobacter infection is a common water- and food-borne gastro illness caused by a bacteria called Campylobacter. 

The most common way to become infected is by eating raw or undercooked chicken or other poultry. It can also be passed on to humans in the faeces (poo) of infected birds, animals or household contacts, or by drinking contaminated water.

If you are concerned about campylobacter infection, call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or see your doctor or practice nurse.

You can get campylobacter from foods that are contaminated with the bacteria, such as chicken, meat, eggs, milk, and fruit and vegetables. People or animals infected with campylobacter can pass it on in their faeces into soil, water and food. The bacteria can also contaminate (make unsafe) surfaces such as toys, bathroom taps or doors and nappy change tables. You get infected by swallowing the bacteria. Roof water supplies can easily become infected from birds sitting on the roof.

To help stop campylobacter spreading, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or a hand-sanitising gel, and look after your roof water supply if you have one.

Campylobacter symptoms can include diarrhoea, stomach pain or cramps, and feeling or being sick.

Symptoms usually appear two to five days after exposure. Symptoms can last for up to 10 days.

Some people do not get any symptoms. Others get a flu-like illness first, such as headache, muscle pains, fever and fatigue.

The best way to prevent campylobacter infection is to practise good hygiene, take care when preparing food, cook food well, watch what you eat and wash your hands frequently and properly.

If you think you have campylobacter, see your doctor, who will probably ask you to provide a specimen of faeces for testing.

Most people recover from the illness within one week.

Stay away from school, early childhood centres or work until two days after the symptoms have gone, and don’t have visitors from outside the family.

Don’t go swimming in a pool if you have diarrhoea. You need to wait at least 2 weeks after the symptoms have gone.

Campylobacter is a notifiable disease. This means that health professionals or laboratories will inform us when someone has it. This allows us to monitor the number of people who have the disease and give health professionals advice on how to reduce its spread. 


There are specific requirements for notifiable diseases in the Auckland region.

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Last updated 23.11.2018

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