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Campylobacter Statistics

Posted in Campylobacter on October 31, 2021

Campylobacteriosis is an infection caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with campylobacter bacteria. It is the most common bacterial cause of diarrheal illness in the U.S., anyone can get it, and you can have it more than once.

Who Gets Infected by Campylobacter Bacteria?

More than two million people are infected with campylobacter bacteria each year, and an estimated 76 people die, with babies younger than one, teens, and young adults most commonly affected. As a result, campylobacter results in approximately $270 million in annual direct medical costs.

Is Campylobacteriosis Contagious?

Yes, campylobacteriosis can spread from person to person when they come into contact with fecal matter from an infected person, especially from a child in diapers. Household pets can carry and spread the bacteria to people as well.

Campylobacter Infection Complications

In some cases, people with a campylobacter infection develop complications, such as:

  • Guillain–Barré syndrome: A nervous disorder that causes weakness or paralysis, often for several weeks or months. An estimated 0.2 to 1.7 in every 1,000 people with Campylobacter illnesses suffer from GBS, according to the CDC.
  • Reactive arthritis: Joint swelling and pain that usually lasts for 3 to 12 months
  • Sepsis (septicemia or blood poisoning)
  • Meningitis
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Erythema nodosum, a painful infection of the fatty layer of skin, usually on the legs

Most people recover completely within one week.

When To Call the Doctor

If you or your child are generally in good health, call your doctor when experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea for more than two days
  • Diarrhea streaked with blood
  • Vomiting
  • Showing any signs of dehydration (dry mouth and skin, dizziness, dark pee)
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • A high fever of 102F or more
  • Feeling weak or having trouble walking
  • Cannot keep down fluids

If you or your child has a weakened immune system, speak to your physician as soon as diarrhea or other symptoms begin. If you believe negligence was the cause of your Campylobacter infection, speak with an experienced Campylobacter lawyer.

How Common are Campylobacter Outbreaks?

Considering how often people are infected with campylobacter bacteria, there are more individual cases than outbreaks. Outbreaks are not often reported; however, their frequency is increasing. From 2004 to 2009, there were an average of 22 outbreaks each year, from 2010 to 2012, an average of 31, and between 2013 to 2017, an average of 29 outbreaks took place each year.

Most Common Causes of Campylobacter Outbreaks

Between 2010 and 2017, public health agencies reported a total of 236 foodborne Campylobacter outbreaks, responsible for 2,381 people becoming ill. According to the CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System, those outbreaks were caused by the following sources:

  • Dairy (80)
  • Poultry (41)
  • Multiple food categories (21)
  • Mollusks (5)
  • Beef (4)
  • Fish (1)
  • Fruits (1)
  • Unidentified Food (83)

State, local, and territorial public health departments are primarily responsible for identifying and investigating Campylobacter outbreaks.

Drug-Resistant Campylobacter

The antibiotic options to treat campylobacter may eventually disappear. Antibiotics can typically stop the growth of or kill a susceptible germ, but campylobacter is decreasing in its susceptibility.

Percentage of Campylobacter  Estimated Number of Infections Per Year Estimated Infections Per 100,000 U.S. Population
Decreased Susceptibility to Ciprofloxacin 28% 429,600 130
Decreased Susceptibility to Azithromycin 4% 55,600 20
Decreased Susceptibility to Ciprofloxacin or Azithromycin 29% 448,400 140
Decreased Susceptibility to Ciprofloxacin and Azithromycin 2% 36,800 10


Between January 2019 to March 2021, a total of 56 people were infected by a strain of multi-drug-resistant campylobacter bacteria linked to pet store puppies. The outbreak occurred across 17 states, and nine people were hospitalized.

According to the CDC, measures that should be taken to prevent resistant Campylobacter infections include:

  • Using antibiotics appropriately in people and animals.
  • Reducing the spread of campylobacter by improving sanitation on poultry farms and in the pet industry.
  • Decreasing the need for antibiotics by implementing disease prevention programs on farms.

Tips for Preventing Campylobacter Infections

You can reduce your chance of campylobacter infection by avoiding risky foods and practicing good personal hygiene.

  • Refrigerate meat after purchasing.
  • Always treat raw meat, including chicken, beef, and pork, as if they are contaminated with campylobacter.
  • Wrap meat in a plastic bag to prevent juices and blood from getting on other foods.
  • Wash any surfaces used to prepare raw chicken or meat immediately after use, such as cutting boards, counters, utensils, etc. Doing so will prevent contamination of other foods.
  • Always keep raw chicken or meat separate from cooked chicken or meat to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water:
    • after using the toilet
    • after changing diapers
    • after assisting others with the toilet
    • after contact with animals and their feces
    • after working in the garden
    • before eating
    • before handling food and after handling raw meat
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats (i.e., poultry, seafood, beef, pork, etc.).
  • Check that chicken or meat is cooked to the appropriate internal temperature (until the meat in the middle is no longer pink, 160°F (72°C) for medium red meat, 170°F (77°C) for breast meat or well-done red meat, and 180°F (82°C) for thigh meat).
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after touching raw chicken or meat.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked eggs, unpasteurized milk, cheese, or other dairy products.
  • Avoid drinking untreated surface water, such as water from a lake or stream.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water after coming into contact with pet feces (i.e., after cleaning pet cages or litter boxes or picking up after a pet dog).
  • Have children wash their hands before eating.

To prevent the spread of campylobacter, you should also:

  • Keep yourself or your child away from work, school, or daycare for at least 24 hours after the symptoms have disappeared
  • Avoid swimming until at least 24 hours after the symptoms have disappeared
  • Wash your hands after petting your pet or farm animals
  • Seek veterinary treatment for your pet if it has diarrhea
  • If you swim with your baby, dress them in well-fitting waterproof pants

Generally, people will continue to pass the bacteria in their stool (feces) for a few days to several weeks after becoming infected with Campylobacter, but certain antibiotics may shorten this carrier phase.