What is Campylobacteriosis?

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  • Written By: Dulce Corazon
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 10 February 2018
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Campylobacteriosis is a food-borne infectious disease, which causes mild to severe diarrhea in children and adults. The bacteria involved in this disease is the Campylobacter bacteria. Some species under the genus Campylobacter include Campylobacter jejuni, Campylobacter coli, and Campylobacter fetus. Campylobacter jejuni is the most common cause of campylobacteriosis, responsible in 80% of all cases.

Campylobacter organisms usually affect the gastrointestinal system of the human body, causing gastroenteritis. Occasionally they also affect the bloodstream of individuals who have other diseases like acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and hypogammaglobulinemia.

Symptoms of campylobacteriosis usually include fever, abdominal pain, muscle pains, and headache followed by nausea, vomiting, and mild to severe diarrhea, often with traces of blood. These symptoms usually appear two to five days from the day of infection. Infections frequently last for two to five days or up to 10 days in some severe cases. Although infections can happen throughout the year, the disease is more prevalent during the summer months.

Animals such as pigs, poultry, sheep, cattle, rodents, puppies, and kittens serve as reservoir for the Campylobacter bacteria. The organisms do not usually cause disease in the animals, however. Eating undercooked or raw meat and drinking unpasteurized milk and contaminated water are generally the mode of spread of the disease. Direct contact with the stool of infected animals and persons can also cause campylobacteriosis. It is not common, however, for infected individuals to transmit the disease to other people.

These bacteria are comma-shaped organisms which are motile and do not form spores. Diagnosis of campylobacteriosis is usually made through the isolation of these bacteria in the stool of infected individuals through the use of special culture media in the laboratory. Detection of Campylobacter in the stool often indicate infection with the organism.

Treatment for campylobacteriosis may include antibiotics and electrolyte infusion, although some infected individuals recover from the disease with just proper hydration and rest. The disease can be prevented from spreading in the community through the proper handling, preparation, and cooking of foods; the avoidance of raw foods; and regular hand washing, especially after contact with animal feces.

Complications from campylobacteriosis include bacteremia in compromised patients and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Individuals with associated immune system disease frequently have persistent infections with the organisms spreading to the bloodstream, causing systemic disease. Guillain-Barre syndrome can also develop in infected individuals two to four weeks after recovery from the disease. Guillain-Barre is a disease characterized by an ascending pattern of paralysis, first affecting the lower limbs, arms, and face, and can be devastating when it affects the respiratory system. Other complications include cystitis, meningitis, and arthritis.



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