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Campylobacter is an infectious illness which can be carried by food or water. Symptoms can include severe abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fever, nausea and occasionally vomiting. These symptoms can last for up to two weeks.


Campylobacter is caused by:

  • drinking raw, unpasteurised milk
  • eating undercooked poultry and poultry based foods
  • contact with streams or ponds
  • drinking unchlorinated water
  • infection from pets, especially puppies and kittens and from farm animals and birds (watch out for birds pecking the tops on milk bottles left on the door step)

How it is spread

Campylobacter is spread by the hands, kitchen surfaces and cooking utensils such as chopping boards and knives.


  • wash your hands before preparing or serving food or drink, after handling pets or their food bowls and after handling raw meat and poultry
  • do not wash raw poultry meat.  This is unnecessary and can cause the spread of these bacteria
  • after preparing raw poultry thoroughly wash and disinfect surfaces and equipment used then wash your hands.  Never use the same to prepare other food
  • avoid swallowing water when participating in water sports
  • only drink mains or treated water. Make sure that the water tank in your loft is covered to stop birds getting in
  • drink milk that has been heat treated e.g. pasteurised or sterilised, rather than unpasteurised (green top) milk
  • keep a cool box or similar for the milkman to store delivered milk.  This will prevent birds pecking at the milk tops and causing contamination
  • cover open wounds or sores with a waterproof plaster
  • keep all perishable foods in a fridge separating raw meat from other foods
  • keep the fridge temperature below 5°C
  • ensure frozen foods are properly thawed before cooking
  • ensure food is cooked thoroughly
  • keep kitchen surfaces and utensils clean. Wash chopping boards and knives with a detergent and sanitiser
  • when preparing food do not let pets or other animals into the kitchen. Do not wash food bowls with the family dishes
  • do not buy or eat food past its “Use by” date
  • do not reheat food more than once
  • always follow the instructions when cooking/reheating microwave and ready meals
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