What Are the Signs of Campylobacter Food Poisoning?

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  • Written By: Deneatra Harmon
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 18 January 2019
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Signs of campylobacter food poisoning include flu-like symptoms that range from mild to severe. Campylobacter bacteria causes intestinal infection in adults and children through contaminated food or water. Mild symptoms usually disappear without treatment, but sometimes patients may require antibiotics for severe symptoms. Proper cleaning and preparation techniques can prevent campylobacter food poisoning.

Symptoms of campylobacter food poisoning often appear within 1 to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria. Common signs include fever, which happens when a child’s or an adult’s body temperature reaches above 99° F (above 37° C). As with most illnesses, a fever increases the body’s temperature to ward off infection. A general feeling of being out of sorts, or malaise, can sometimes occur as a sign of food poisoning.

Other problems caused by campylobacter contamination revolve around intestinal discomfort. Campylobacter bacteria cause abdominal cramping and pain in most patients, accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Diarrhea ranges from mild to severe, and is sometimes bloody. Patients suffering from severe diarrhea must be closely watched for signs of dehydration, which includes dry skin, a dry mouth, and irritability, as well as thirst and lethargy.


Specific foods and beverages are the culprits of campylobacter food poisoning. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, consumption of raw or unpasteurized milk, contaminated water, and undercooked or raw poultry can cause this bacterial infection. These products become contaminated when they are exposed to animal waste or animal intestinal infection during food production or handling processes. The risk for infection increases when a person uses unclean equipment to prepare food, or touches food without proper hand washing.

Treating food poisoning varies for each person and depends on the severity of the infection. An adult or a child with campylobacter food poisoning usually recovers anytime from two to five days without medication. The patient must drink plenty of water or electrolyte-replacement drinks to prevent dehydration. In more serious cases, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to hasten the recovery time.

Sterile hygiene methods and safe food handling practices work best to prevent campylobacter contamination. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that people wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling any food, as well as sanitize countertops, cutting boards, or utensils used to prepare the food. Regular hand washing after other activities, such as using the bathroom or playing with pets, also stops food poisoning. To ensure safe consumption, the USDA also suggests using a food thermometer to cook casseroles, chicken, and meat, as well as other perishable dishes to an internal temperature ranging from 145° to 165° F (approximately 63° to 74° C).



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