Campylobacteriosis is food poisoning caused by the campylobacter bacterium.
Campylobacteriosis occurs much more often in the summer months than in the winter months. Infants, young adults, and males are most likely to get the condition.
Campylobacteriosis is usually caused by handling poultry (such as chicken or turkey) that is contaminated with the campylobacter bacterium and is raw or undercooked. For example, you can be infected by cutting poultry meat on a cutting board and then using the unwashed cutting board or utensil to prepare vegetables or other raw or lightly cooked foods. Drinking contaminated milk or water from contaminated lakes or streams can also result in infection.
Campylobacteriosis usually is not spread from person to person. Some people have become infected through contact with the infected stool of a dog or cat.
The symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, cramping, stomach pain, and fever within 2 to 5 days after exposure to the bacteria. Your diarrhea may be bloody, and you may feel sick to your stomach and vomit. The illness usually lasts 1 week. Some people don't have any symptoms at all. In people with impaired immune systems, campylobacteriosis can be life-threatening.
Your doctor will do a medical history and a physical exam and ask you questions about your symptoms, foods you have recently eaten, and your work and home environments. A stool culture can confirm the diagnosis.
You treat campylobacteriosis by managing any complications until it passes. Dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting is the most common complication. Do not use medicines, including antibiotics and other treatments, unless your doctor recommends them. Most people recover completely within a week after symptoms begin, although sometimes recovery can take up to 10 days.
To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids. Choose water and other clear liquids until you feel better. You can take frequent sips of a rehydration drink (such as Pedialyte). Soda, fruit juices, and sports drinks have too much sugar and not enough of the important electrolytes that are lost during diarrhea. These kinds of drinks should not be used to rehydrate.
When you feel like eating again, start with small amounts of food.
In more severe cases, your doctor may recommend antibiotics.
In rare cases, long-term problems can result from campylobacteriosis. Some people may have arthritis following campylobacteriosis. Others may develop a rare disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome. This occurs when your immune system attacks your nerves, which can lead to paralysis that lasts several weeks and usually requires that you go to a hospital.
You can prevent campylobacteriosis by practicing safe food handling.
It is important to pay particular attention to food preparation and storage during warm months when food is often served outside. Bacteria grow faster in warmer weather, so food can spoil more quickly and possibly cause illness. Do not leave food outdoors for more than 1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F (32°C), and never leave it outdoors for more than 2 hours.
Current as of:
February 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: February 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.