What is Campylobacter Infection? – Causes, Symptoms
Campylobacter infection, also called campylobacteriosis gastroenteritis, is one of the most common livestock diseases worldwide.
According to the center for disease control and prevention (CDC), more than one million Americans develop Campylobacteriosis, which results in approximately 200 deaths each year.
While the consumption of undercooked poultry meat is the leading carrier of Campylobacteriosis, you can also contract this disease from unpasteurized dairy products, infected feces of pets, and untreated water.
In the United States, Campylobacter is the most common cause of bacterial diarrhea. So Proper hygiene is crucial in handling poultry to prevent the onset of the disease.
Symptoms of Campylobacter infection include headache, vomiting, fever, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Most cases of Campylobacter resolve without treatment; however, if symptoms persist after a few days, see a doctor who can diagnose and treat you.
Causes of Campylobacter Infection
According to research, the most common cause of Campylobacter infection is the consumption of undercooked or raw poultry meat. Typical food that can colonize Campylobacter includes chicken, seafood, untreated water, and dairy products (pasteurized milk).
How does Campylobacteriosis Contamination Happen?
Contamination of poultry and cattle occurs during slaughter and processing. An infected animal may colonize Campylobacter without symptoms; however, the bacteria leak from the intestine and contaminate edible parts when slaughtered.
Campylobacter infection in the udder of dairy animals can contaminate milk and cause infection in humans if not pasteurized.
Water contamination occurs when infected animal waste gets into water bodies like streams.
You can also contract Campylobacteriosis by touching the waste of infected pets such as dogs and cats. Always make sure you take precautions when handling an infected or unfamiliar animal.
Due to a compromised or weak immune system, high-risk individuals such as young children, aged adults, and people with the chronic underlying condition are at higher risk of contracting this infection.
If you experience extreme discomfort or symptoms, reach out for medical care.
Symptoms of Campylobacter Infection
Campylobacter infection has flu-like symptoms that usually last for about one week. Symptoms of Campylobacteriosis include:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Abdominal pain and cramps.
Campylobacter infection begins between two and five days after consuming contaminated food or water.
How is Campylobacter Infection Diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will take your stool sample and send it to the lab to test for Campylobacter infection. If you have a possibly life-threatening condition, your doctor may order a blood test.
Complications from Campylobacter Infection
Generally, Campylobacter Infection resolves without treatment; however, it may lead to complications in rare cases. Campylobacteriosis may cause arthritis, neurological disorder, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and gallbladder infection (cholecystitis).
How to Prevent Campylobacter Infection
Cooking your meat to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit is the most effective method for preventing Campylobacter Infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommend the following steps.
- Store your chicken in a refrigerator
- Defreeze chicken on a plate and cook immediately after thawing
- Prevent cross-contamination. Separate raw chicken from other foods.
- Wash your hands with soap and water during meal preparation, and clean your utensils.
- To kill harmful bacteria, cook the chicken to at least 165° F.
- You should not return cooked meat to a plate used where it was raw.
- Refrigerate leftover meat after cooking
- Do not consume unpasteurized milk
- After disposing of pet waste, wash your hands
Management and Treatment of Campylobacter Infection
Generally, cases of Campylobacter infection do not require a specific treatment course. Campylobacter infection resolves independently; however, your primary health care provider may prescribe antibiotics to hasten recovery and ease discomfort.
If your condition causes diarrhea and vomiting, your doctor will advise you to increase your fluid intake to prevent dehydration. Make sure you take drinks rich in electrolytes and essential minerals to replenish lost electrolytes.
When to Consult Your Doctor
If your condition doesn’t get better after a few days, it’s only appropriate to consult a doctor for professional medical care.
Take extra precautions and watch for dehydration if your child less than four years old or an aged adult catches this bacteria, as dehydration can lead to complications in high-risk individuals. Your doctor may administer the use of intravenous (IV) fluids to replenish lost electrolytes.