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Cause: Bacteria in the genus Campylobacter, most commonly C. jejuni.

Illness and treatment: Symptoms include diarrhea, sometimes containing blood, abdominal pain, fatigue, fever, and vomiting. Most persons will recover without treatment; however serious complications can occur.

Sources: Animals such as cattle, puppies, kittens, swine, sheep, rodents and birds are the reservoir. Contamination of raw poultry meat is very common. Exposure may also be through direct animal contact.

Additional risks: Those with weakened immune systems are at increased risk for infection.

Prevention: Avoid eating undercooked poultry and unpasteurized dairy products. Thoroughly clean cutting boards and counters used for raw meat or poultry to prevent contamination of other foods. Wash hands after handling animals, bird feces, or raw meat, particularly poultry.

Recent Washington trends: Campylobacteriosis is the most commonly reported enteric illness in Washington with 1,000 to 1,300 reports each year. Outbreaks involving multiple persons and person-to-person spread are relatively uncommon. Infections are reported most commonly in children and during the summer months.

Purpose of Reporting and Surveillance

  • To identify outbreaks and potential sources of ongoing transmission (e.g., a commercial raw milk dairy or public water supply).
  • To prevent further transmission from such sources.

Legal Reporting Requirements

  • Health care providers: notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 3 business days.
  • Health care facilities: notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 3 business days.
  • Laboratories: Campylobacter species notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 2 business days; specimen submission only on request.
  • Local health jurisdictions: notifiable to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Communicable Disease Epidemiology (CDE) within 7 days of case investigation completion or summary information required within 21 days of initial notification.