Campylobacteriosis — a foodborne disease that typically develops after consuming undercooked meat or poultry or raw milk — is among the most common bacterial infections among Americans. A new study by the Emerging Infections Program at Yale School of Public Health has revealed that there is a link between socioeconomic status and the risk of falling ill with the disease.

Researchers found that campylobacteriosis was more common among adults of higher socioeconomic status, but when it affects children under the age of 10 those with more deprived socioeconomic positions are more likely to be infected. The study looked at cases of campylobacteriosis registered in Connecticut between 1999 and 2009 and ranked them against the percentage of people living with income lower than the federal poverty line, Food Safety News reported.

The explanation for the contrasting rates of incidence lies in the fact that adults with higher socioeconomic status are more likely to be exposed to the bacteria when they eat out or while traveling. On the other hand, children living in lower-income families may be more exposed to the disease because they are more likely to have access to raw poultry and because of cross-contamination in small kitchens and large households.

James Hadler, one of the authors of the study, told Food Safety News that further research may shed more light on the importance of socioeconomic factors in terms of campylobacteriosis incidence rates and possible preventive measures.