Campylobacter is the most common cause of foodborne illness in New Zealand. Find out about its effects and how it is spread.

About campylobacteriosis

Campylobacteriosis is caused by the Campylobacter bacteria. It is the most common bacterial cause of foodborne illness in New Zealand. It usually occurs in single, isolated cases, although outbreaks do occur.

Sources of contamination

Poultry meat, unpasteurised milk, and untreated drinking water are the most common sources of illness associated with Campylobacter.

Symptoms and effects

Most people experience diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and fever within 2 to 5 days of being exposed to the organism. They usually recover in less than a week.

In rare cases, Campylobacter can cause long-term consequences such as Guillain-Barré syndrome or reactive arthritis. It can be fatal, but deaths are rare.

Campylobacter strategy

MPI's Campylobacter risk management strategy aims to achieve a 10% reduction in the annual incidence of human foodborne campylobacteriosis in New Zealand within 5 years. This follows a 50% reduction in the incidence since 2007.

Because poultry is the most common cause of campylobacteriosis, the strategy for 2017–2020 primarily focuses on controlling Campylobacter in chicken meat. 

MPI also continues to investigate other potential food sources such as raw drinking milk and food handling practices that can contribute to the illness.

Read about the strategy and its associated work programme:

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