Have you ever heard of a group of bacteria called campylobacter? It is similar to salmonella and can cause a related infection. Campylobacteriosis is a food-borne infection that targets the intestinal tract. If you consume raw or undercooked poultry or meat, you may become infected. Other outbreaks stem from contaminated water or unpasteurized dairy products according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC estimates that about 1.3 million of these infections occur every year. Of those, around 13,000 lead to hospitalizations and 120 cases are fatal. The CDC suggests that males are more likely to get a campylobacter infection compared to females. Further, it is more common in the summer months than the winter season.
The most common symptom of campylobacteriosis is diarrhea. If this symptom lasts for more than two days, you should visit a doctor to avoid dehydration. Signs of dehydration include a dry mouth, dark urine, and dizziness. Your stools may also be bloody if you have campylobacteriosis. This can be a frightening sight; visit your medical provider immediately to diagnose your condition. That way, you can rule out more serious illnesses. If you have a weakened immune system because of cancer, HIV/AIDS, or other autoimmune diseases, do not hesitate to seek emergency care as soon as you recognize the symptom of diarrhea.
Symptom: Nausea and Vomiting
The infection usually lasts about a week. If you’ve been infected, symptoms start within a couple of days of consuming the bacteria. Besides diarrhea, nausea and vomiting are also associated with this bacterial infection. Symptoms start about two days after consuming the contaminated food. Campylobacter usually lasts about a week. However, if you feel overwhelming sick to your stomach, see a doctor before that to ensure you do not become dehydrated or have some other illness.
Symptom: Abdominal Cramps and Pain
Since campylobacteriosis affects your intestines, it is only natural that abdominal pain would accompany diarrhea and vomiting or nausea. You may also experience stomach cramps and bloating. If you have severe pain in your rectum or gut, consult with a medical provider right away.
Symptom: Fever and Fatigue
A fever is the body’s way of responding to an infection. As your body tries to fight off the bacteria, you may experience a fever. It is also common to feel fatigued or overly tired if you have campylobacteriosis. However, if your fever reaches 102 degrees Fahrenheit or more then go to the emergency room, especially if you already have a weakened immune system. Campylobacter can spread to your bloodstream in rare cases, which might lead to a life-threatening condition such as meningitis or Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).
Treatment: No Medical Treatment Required
In mild cases of Campylobacter, no medical treatment is required. If you are in overall good health, you might want to want a few days before seeking treatment. For an official diagnosis, your doctor may request a stool sample. It will be sent to a lab, which can take several days for a result. A blood test might be required, which will take up to two weeks for results, but this only occurs in rare cases.
You should treat campylobacteriosis the same you do any bout of diarrhea. You need to avoid becoming hydrated, especially if you are having diarrhea and vomiting. Drinking at least 10 glasses of fluids every day will help keep your body hydrated. You should try to drink at least one cup after each loose bowel movement. Water is ideal and can help relieve your symptoms and treat the infection faster.
Treatment: Eat Small Meals
You may not be able to hold food down if you are vomiting. However, if you have campylobacter, eating several small meals throughout the day rather than three big ones can help. Try taking little bites and sips instead of weighing your stomach down with large meals. Salty foods or meals with high potassium are recommended.
Antibiotic treatment of Campylobacter infection is necessary only in severe cases and in people at high risk for a severe illness, such as those with a weakened immune system from illness or medications. A Campylobacter infection may require antibiotic treatment in severe cases. Your medical provider may prescribe levofloxacin first. If that medication does not help, then there are other options including azithromycin or ciprofloxacin. Only in rare cases does campylobacteriosis not clear up within two to 10 days with antibiotic treatment.
Treatment: At-Home Remedies and Prevention
You can avoid getting campylobacteriosis if you cook your poultry thoroughly. The internal temperature should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. That means it should only be white, never pink. If the chicken looks undercooked, do not eat it. Consuming dairy products that are pasteurized and heating your foods properly are effective ways to kill the bacteria that can cause campylobacteriosis. Make sure you always wash your hands before cooking with raw meat or poultry. Wash your hands every single time after you touch raw meat or poultry, too. Uncooked meat and poultry should never come in contact with other foods like fruits and vegetables. Additionally, if you have a pet, wash your hands after handling any feces.