Campylobacter - Prevention

Authored by Dr Mary Harding, 03 Jun 2016

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Dr Laurence Knott, 03 Jun 2016

If you (or your child) have campylobacter, the following are recommended to prevent the spread of infection to others:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet. Ideally, use liquid soap in warm running water but any soap is better than none. Dry properly after washing. If your child wears nappies, be especially careful to wash your hands after changing nappies and before preparing, serving, or eating food.
  • If a potty has to be used, wear gloves when you handle it, dispose of the contents into a toilet, then wash the potty with hot water and detergent and leave it to dry.
  • Don't share towels and flannels.
  • Don't prepare or serve food for others.
  • If clothing or bedding is soiled, first remove any stools (faeces) into the toilet. Then wash in a separate wash at as high a temperature as possible.
  • Regularly clean with disinfectant the toilets that you use. Wipe - with hot water and detergent - the flush handle, toilet seat, bathroom taps, surfaces and door handles, at least once a day. Keep a cloth just for cleaning the toilet (or use a disposable one each time).
  • Stay off work, school, college, etc, until at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea or being sick (vomiting). Avoid contact with other people as far as possible during this time.
  • Food handlers: if you work with food and develop diarrhoea or vomiting, you must inform your employer and immediately leave the food-handling area. If campylobacter is confirmed, you should inform your employer and stay away from work until at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting.
  • If you have campylobacter infection and you work with vulnerable groups of people such as the elderly, the unwell or the young, you should inform your employer.

The Foods Standards Agency in the UK has identified the '4 Cs' to help prevent food poisoning, including food poisoning caused by campylobacter:

Cleanliness

  • Keep work surfaces and utensils clean.
  • Wash and dry your hands regularly but especially after going to the toilet, before preparing food, after handling raw food and before touching 'ready-to-eat' food.
  • Don't prepare food for others if you have diarrhoea or sickness (vomiting).
  • Cover sores or cuts on hands with a waterproof plaster before you touch food.
  • Change dishcloths and tea towels regularly.

To help avoid campylobacter infection, you should also wash your hands after touching pets or animals, after visiting farms and after gardening.

Cooking

  • Make sure that you cook food thoroughly, especially meat. This will kill germs (bacteria). Food should be cooked right through and be piping hot in the middle.
  • If you are reheating food, it needs to be cooked right through and be piping hot in the middle.
  • Don't reheat food more than once.

You should also make sure that you only drink pasteurised or boiled milk and avoid drinking water thought to be unsafe (including avoiding drinks containing ice cubes that may have been made from unsafe water).

Chilling

  • Food that needs to be chilled or refrigerated, should be. If food is left out of the fridge, bacteria may multiply to levels that can cause food poisoning.
  • Your fridge needs to be kept between 0°C and 5°C. Also, don't leave the door open unnecessarily.
  • Cool leftover food quickly and then refrigerate. Taking it out of the cooking pot and putting it into a shallow container can speed up the cooling process.

Cross-contamination

This occurs when bacteria pass from foods (commonly raw foods) to other foods. It can occur if foods touch directly, if one food drips on to another, if your hands, or utensils or equipment - such as knives or chopping boards - touch one food and then another.

  • Wash your hands after touching raw foods.
  • Separate raw and cooked or 'ready-to-eat' foods.
  • Keep raw meat in a sealable container at the bottom of the fridge.
  • Don't use the same surface or chopping board for preparing raw and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Make sure that knives and utensils are cleaned after preparing raw foods.

If you suspect that you (or your child) have campylobacter or any other type of food poisoning from eating takeaway or restaurant food, you should report this to your local Environmental Health Office. This is so that the business can be investigated by environmental health officers and further action may be taken if there is a problem with their food hygiene practices. This will hopefully help to reduce the chance that other people will get food poisoning. You can find your local food standards enforcer from the Food Standards Agency Report a Food Problem.

If your doctor suspects that you have food poisoning, or campylobacter infection is confirmed from your stool (faeces) sample, they are also required by law to report this.

Further reading and references

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