More than two cases of gastrointestinal infection campylobacter have been reported in Northland daily since New Year's Day, prompting a call for people to practise safe hand hygiene.

Northland District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Jose Benito said 15 cases of campylobacter had been notified from Tuesday last week to yesterday but none were linked.

Of those, 12 were in Whangārei, two in Kaipara and one in the Far North.

There were seven notified cases of campylobacter over the same period last year and five for the same period in 2017.


Dr Benito said six of the 15 patients so far this year possibly got infected through recreational water contact such as at beaches and rivers, five after consuming untreated drinking water at home, three through infected animals, and one from consuming raw milk.

All were advised about the importance of hand washing. Good hygiene, proper cooking and boiling water practices are effective ways to prevent gastroenteritis during the warm season, he said.

In 2018, there were 244 notifications of campylobacter in all age groups in the region.

Apart from occasional family clusters, cases were not linked.

Campylobacter are bacteria found in the gut of infected people and animals. They can also be found in water and some foods.

Infected people or animals pass on the bacteria in their faeces. People get infected when they swallow the bacteria.

Those infected usually get diarrhoea and some people, especially young children and older people, can get very ill.

Benito said it was really important in this hot summer weather that everyone took note
of the Clean – Cook – Chill message.


People must ensure their drinking water is safe, especially those not on town supplies and should boil it if they are unsure of the quality of water.

Campylobacter symptoms usually appear for between one and 10 days after people become infected.

Symptoms can last for up to 10 days but most people will usually get better within 10 days.

You can get infected by:
Handling raw meat or poultry
Eating contaminated raw or under cooked food
Eating contaminated bought food – for example, takeaways and at restaurants
Drinking contaminated water
Drinking raw milk or raw milk products
Having contact with faeces or faecal matter
Having contact with infected animals
Swimming or playing in contaminated "recreational water", such as rivers and lakes
travelling overseas