LONDON – The Food Standards Agency in the United Kingdom wants consumers to, “Spread the word, not the germs,” when it comes to fightingCampylobacter.

The agency’s goal is to reduce cases of foodborne illness caused by
Campylobacterin half, by the end of 2015. The initiative is part of FSA's “Chicken Challenge,” which encourages consumers to practice safe handling and cooking of chicken. The program, which features contests, educational posters and fact sheets, comes ahead of Food Safety Week which starts May 18.

Research commission by the FSA found that campylobacter causes more foodborne illnesses thanSalmonellaandE. colicombined.Campylobactercauses an estimated 280,000 illnesses each year;Salmonellacauses an estimated 33,600 cases andE. coliis behind an estimated 9,500 cases of food poisoning, according to FSA research.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that symptoms of a campylobacteriosis infection can include diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and fever within two to five days after exposure to the pathogen. However, some infected persons do not have any symptoms.

In the United States,Campylobacteris one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness. An estimated 76 individuals die each year fromCampylobacter infections, according to CDC data.