Campylobacter Infections
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Campylobacter Infections in the Child Care Setting

Campylobacter infections are caused by a group of bacteria which are found in many different birds and mammals. While we once thought that this group only caused infections in other animals, we now know that the campylobacteria are responsible for a number of diseases, including diarrheal illness, in humans. Persons often become infected when they eat or drink foods or liquids contaminated with feces of infected animals. Similar exposure to human feces, especially from diapered children, may promote transmission in child care settings. Many people become infected from eating poorly cooked meats, especially poultry. Waterborne infections result from drinking water from contaminated wells, springs or streams, and this is a leading cause of diarrhea among backpackers in some parts of the United States.

Although outbreaks of campylobacter diarrhea have been reported from child care facilities, these are rare and child care providers are more likely to encounter this as a sporadic case. To prevent campylobacter infections in your facility:

  • Make sure that all meats, especially poultry, are cooked completely before serving. Take care to avoid contaminating foods that will not be cooked with juice from raw meats and poultry.

  • Practice good hygiene, especially careful handwashing after handling pets and cleaning their cages or pens.

  • Isolate animals with diarrhea from children and take them to a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. However, these bacteria may also be present in feces of apparently healthy pets.

  • Exclude children with diarrhea, especially those in diapers, from child care until their diarrhea resolves. Although campylobacter may be present in the feces for a few weeks after diarrhea has ceased, transmission is believed less likely than during diarrhea.

  • Notify your state or local health department if you become aware that a child or adult in your facility has developed campylobacter. This infection is reportable in many states and there may be laws or regulations dealing with persons with campylobacter infections.
Note: This information is not intended to take the place of your state's or locality's child care regulations and laws. In every case, the laws and regulations of the city, county, and state in which the child care facility is located must be carefully followed even if they differ from these recommendations.

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