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Campylobacter infection (Campylobacteriosis) is the most common bacterial cause of diarrhea (runny poop) in the United States.


How can I get sick? 

  • Eating undercooked* meat. Some food animals that carry this bacterium are poultry, cattle, pigs, sheep, and ostriches. Campylobacter has also been found in shellfish.  
  • Eating fruits and vegetables that haven’t been washed properly. 
  • Drinking water that has the bacteria in it. 
  • If you touch something that has the bacteria on it and touch your mouth. This could be something that touched dirty water or equipment.   
  • Being around an animal that has Campylobacter. Some animals that can have Campylobacter are lizards, snakes, amphibians*, dogs, and cats.  

Symptoms in humans:  

Symptoms usually show 2 to 5 days after infection.  

  • Diarrhea (runny poop)
    • most common symptom 
    • usually, bloody 
  • Fever (when your body gets a little hotter than normal) 
  • Stomach pain 
  • Feeling like you need to throw up 
  • Throwing up 

 What can I do to stay healthy? 

  • Wash hands properly. Bacteria and germs live on hands. That is why it is important to wash your hands often, especially when preparing food, before eating, after using the bathroom, after sneezing or coughing, after changing a child’s diaper, after touching animals, and after touching garbage. 
    • Proper Handwashing Wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. Make sure to scrub your thumbs, between your fingers and the tops and bottoms of your hands. Dry your hands with a paper towel. 

  • Separate food. Make sure to keep different raw foods separate from each other. Chicken can spread Campylobacter bacteria to beef, pork, fish, fruits, and vegetables if it touches them.  
  • Clean work surfaces when cooking. When touching raw meat or seafood make sure to clean all surfaces including cutting boards and utensils. Use separate cutting boards or utensils for handling produce and fruits.  
  • Cook food properly. It is very important that all meats are cooked properly before eating. Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, goose) is one of the top carriers of campylobacter bacteria and needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165° F.  

  • Do not eat or drink unpasteurized (raw, straight from the animal) milk or milk products.   
  • Do not drink untreated water. It is important to know where your water comes from before drinking it, brushing your teeth, washing dishes and even washing your hands. Do not use water from rivers, ponds, lakes, or streams for drinking or cleaning. Make sure water sources are not contaminated* from septic tanks, livestock, animals, or poop.  


  • Amphibians: An animal that can live in water and on land (such as a frogs or salamanders).
  • Contaminated: When something becomes dirty with germs.
  • Undercooked: Cooking food less than the recommended time or temperature.

Learn About Other Diseases

Click below to learn more about the many different diseases that can spread between animals and humans.