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What is Campylobacter Gastroenteritis : Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment, Complications, Prevention

What is Campylobacter Gastroenteritis?

Campylobacter gastroenteritis is a type of stomach infection caused by Campylobacter bacteria. This stomach infection is also known as food poisoning. It mostly occurs due to eating undercooked chicken or beef.(1) Its infection impacts mostly the small intestine and leads to a range of gastrointestinal symptoms.

Campylobacter bacteria are known to be the most common cause of diarrheal illness and are known to affect 15 million people in the United States each year.(1)

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Causes of Campylobacter Gastroenteritis

Campylobacter gastroenteritis occurs when a person comes in contact with the bacteria.

Campylobacter may be present in poultry, cattle, shellfish, sheep, and ostrich.(2) It can also be present in dogs and cats.

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The main route of entry of bacteria is via eating. When the animals are slaughtered, the bacteria from their feces may contaminate the meat.

People can also come in contact with the bacteria via:

Milk can get contaminated when it lies in the udder. Fruits and vegetables get contaminated when they come in contact with soil containing animal feces. Lakes and water can also get contaminated with animal feces.

Symptoms of Campylobacter Gastroenteritis

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Campylobacter gastroenteritis can lead to bloody diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Mostly the symptoms are mild and subside on their own.

The symptoms typically develop in 2-5 days after getting infected with the bacteria. The days can range from 1-10 days.(2)

The symptoms of campylobacter gastroenteritis include:

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It is observed that the symptoms mostly last for 3-6 days.

Diagnosis of Campylobacter Gastroenteritis

The diagnosis of campylobacter gastroenteritis is done mostly by taking the medical history of the patient. A stool test is ordered to come to the diagnosis.

Treatment of Campylobacter Gastroenteritis

The treatment focuses mainly on managing the symptoms and replenishing the lost fluids. It is important for an individual to drink a lot of water to make up for the fluid lost via vomiting and diarrhea.

If a person is severely ill, antibiotics may be needed. It is also required in those:

  • 65 years and above
  • Pregnant people
  • People with a weakened immune system

Complications of Campylobacter Gastroenteritis

The complications of campylobacter gastroenteritis include:

In people with a weakened immune system, the infection may spread to the bloodstream and this can be life-threatening.

Some people may develop Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves and lead to muscle weakness.

How to Prevent Campylobacter Gastroenteritis?

Meat and poultry are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, but people can take preventive measures at home.

Campylobacter is killed by heat. As the infection is contracted by eating raw or uncooked meat, people should ensure that they consume it only in a well-cooked form. There are certain hygiene precautions that can be taken to prevent getting sick, these include washing hands:

  • After blowing nose, coughing and sneezing
  • After using the toilet or changing diapers
  • After touching the garbage
  • Before taking care of someone who is sick
  • After petting a dog or cat and cleaning their poop
  • Safe Food Storage and Preparation

People should handle raw meat with caution as it can be contaminated. To prevent infection, one should:

  • Wrap the meat in plastic bags in the grocery store before bringing it home
  • Refrigerate the meat immediately
  • Wash the cutting board and the surfaces of the food preparation
  • Wash hands with soap and water before and after handling the raw meat

People with campylobacter recover mostly in 1 week. It is important to keep the body hydrated for recovery. A doctor should be contacted if a person experiences fever, stomach pain, diarrhea for more than 2 days, and bloody diarrhea. Also, medical attention is necessary if there is dry mouth, lethargy, and decreased urination. If a child under 12 months gets the symptoms of campylobacter gastroenteritis, a doctor should be surely consulted.

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