Campylobacteriosis is an infectious disease caused by Campylobacter spp., with an incubation period usually between two and five days. It is the most common zoonotic illness in many developed countries, including Ireland, with symptoms such as diarrhoea (sometimes bloody), fever, severe abdominal pain and occasionally vomiting. Although the disease is usually self-limiting, complications such as arthritis, Guillain-Barré syndrome and reactive arthritis (Reiter’s syndrome) can occur on rare occasions.
Campylobacter spp. can be found in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded domestic and wild animals. Consumption of undercooked chicken and contaminated ready-to-eat (RTE) foods during the summer months have been identified as important risk factors for sporadic Campylobacter spp. infection in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (Danis et al. 2009).
Large foodborne outbreaks are not a common occurrence as Campylobacter spp. has a relatively high (>30ºC) minimum growth temperature. However, Campylobacter spp. has a low infective dose (estimated as low as 500 cells) and can survive in the food production and distribution system with the result that a lapse in hygiene standards during food handling or preparation could result in illness.
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