Campylobacter jejuni is a pathogenic bacterium responsible for causing maximum gastrointestinal infections. The symptoms of C. jejuni infections include diarrhea, dizziness, stomach pain, muscle pain, headache, and fever. This article provides information about the various symptoms and treatment options available for campylobacteriosis (the condition caused due to its infection).
Campylobacter jejuni is a rod-shaped, curved, gram-negative, motile, thermophilic, and microaerophilic bacterium. It survives in very low oxygen conditions (5 percent), and can be killed by elevating the oxygen amount. The intestines of birds are the best harboring sites for this bacterium. It is responsible for causing gastrointestinal infections in humans, animals, and birds. In fact, it is a major causal organism for food-borne diseases and/or food poisoning in humans.
Majority of the species belonging to this genus, especially C. jejuni, C. coli, and C. fetus are capable of causing various diseases. The species C. fetus causes enteritis and abortion in cattle and sheep. C. jejuni is usually found in animal feces. It can also be isolated from flies, birds, poultry, and cattle. At times, it is present in stagnant water sources like ponds and lakes.
Infections caused by this bacterium are referred to as campylobacteriosis, campylobacter enteritis, or simply gastroenteritis. It is more common among children below 5 years of age and young adults (15 – 29 years old). Transmission of this bacterium occurs through the consumption of raw meat, contaminated foods, and water. It can also spread from one infected person to another through direct skin contact.
Campylobacteriosis: Symptoms and Treatment
The signs and symptoms of this infection are observed 2 – 5 days after the ingestion of contaminated food and/or water. The course of illness may last for 8 – 10 days. Though the affected individual may become very weak, life-threatening symptoms are rare. The most commonly manifested symptom of this infection is diarrhea, which can be watery or sticky.
In severe infection, blood and white blood cells are usually present in the stool. Other symptoms of campylobacteriosis include headache, nausea, dizziness, stomach cramps, muscle pain, and fever. The condition is diagnosed by conducting stool analysis. The stool of an infected person contains this bacterium in a large number. Hence, this condition can be identified by culturing and examining the stool under a microscope.
Healthy individuals with this infection may recover on their own without therapeutic interventions. For managing and shortening the duration of the symptoms, antibiotics can be administered under medical supervision. This infection can cause complications among people with a compromised immune system or those with other underlying health conditions. In such cases, the physician may prescribe appropriate antibiotic medications.
The long-term consequences of this infection include, arthritis and Guillain-Barré syndrome. In the latter case, the bacterium triggers the body’s own immune system to attack certain nerves, resulting in paralysis of the affected body portion.
It is advisable to drink plenty of water and fruit juices as long as diarrhea lasts. Otherwise, excess fluid loss from the body may result in dehydration and increased weakness. Some safety tips to prevent this infection are personal hygiene, safe handling of pet feces, and washing hands before and after handling raw meat. Also, poultry products should be cooked properly before consumption and consumption of unpasteurized milk or contaminated water should be avoided.