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Campylobacter Infection and Animals

Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial disease caused by Campylobacter jejuni or Campylobacter coli. Campylobacter usually causes a mild to severe infection of the gastrointestinal system, including watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. A rare complication of Campylobacter infection is Guillain-Barre syndrome, a nervous system disease that occurs approximately 2 weeks after the initial illness develops.

Can animals transmit Campylobacter to me?

 
Sometimes, yes, animals can spread Campylobacter to humans. Most people get campylobacteriosis from contaminated food. However, animals can have Campylobacter in their feces (stool). If people touch contaminated feces, they can get sick. Animals that may carry Campylobacter in their feces include farm animals, cats, and dogs. Animals do not have to be ill to pass Campylobacter to humans. People with compromised immune systems, including those undergoing treatments for cancer, organ transplant patients, and people with HIV/AIDS, have a higher risk than others of getting Campylobacter infection from food and animals.
Campylobacter jujuni
 

How do I reduce my risk of getting Campylobacter infection from animals?

  • After contact with animals and animal feces, wash your hands thoroughly with running water and soap.
  • If you are immunocompromised and are getting a new pet, avoid farm animals, cats, and dogs with diarrhea.
  • If your dog or cat has diarrhea, talk to your veterinarian.
  • If you develop symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and/or nausea, contact your physician. Be sure to inform him or her of your pet and if it is ill.
  • If you are immunocompromised, be extra cautious around farm animals and their environment.

How can I find out more about campylobacteriosis?

Please read CDC’s general fact sheets on Campylobacter infections, including frequently asked questions and technical information.

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