FOOD poisonings from a type of bacterium found in chicken have reached the highest level in Scotland for a decade.

More than 6000 people fell ill as a result of the bug campylobacter, which is present in raw meat particularly poultry, last year.

Infants and toddlers were among those who suffered the symptoms such as sickness and diarrhoea, with a 25 per cent increase in cases recorded among those under the age of four.

In total 6636 cases were confirmed by NHS laboratories during 2014, a rise of 7.7 per cent compared to the previous year. Experts say the actual number of people likely to have fallen ill will be higher as not everyone who experiences food poisoning contacts the health service for advice.

There were 355 confirmed cases among pre-schoolers in 2014 and 284 in 2013.

At the start of last summer the Food Standards Agency launched a campaign about campylobacter, saying it was the most common cause of food poisoning even though more people have heard of salmonella and E.coli.

One of their key messages is not to wash raw chicken as splashed droplets can spread the bacteria across hands, clothing, work surfaces and cooking equipment.

While most people recover quickly from campylobacter poisoning, the symptoms can last for more than 10 days and in the worst cases patients die from complications.