Coordinated Health

Conditions

Definition

Campylobacter enteritis is an infection of the small intestine with Campylobacter jejuni bacteria.

Alternative Names

Food poisoning – campylobacter enteritis; Infectious diarrhea – campylobacter enteritis; Bacterial diarrhea

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Campylobacter enteritis is a common cause of intestinal infection. These bacteria are also one of the many causes of traveler’s diarrhea or food poisoning.

People most often get infected by eating or drinking food or water, often raw poultry, fresh produce, or unpasteurized milk.

A person can also be infected by close contact with infected people or animals.

Symptoms

Symptoms start 2 – 4 days after being exposed to the bacteria. They usually last 1 week, and may include:

  • Cramping abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea, sometimes bloody

Signs and tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. The following tests may be ordered:

  • Complete blood count with differential
  • Stool sample testing for white blood cells
  • Stool culture for Campylobacter jejuni

Treatment

The infection almost always goes away on its own and does not need to be treated with antibiotics. Severe symptoms may respond to treatment with antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin and azithromycin.

The goal is to make you feel better and avoid dehydration. Dehydration means your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should.

These things may help you feel better if you have diarrhea:

  • Drink 8 to 10 glasses of clear fluids every day. Water is best.
  • Drink at least 1 cup of liquid every time you have a loose bowel movement.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day instead of three big meals.
  • Eat some salty foods, such as pretzels, soup, and sports drinks.
  • Eat some high-potassium foods, such as bananas, potatoes without the skin, and watered-down fruit juices.

Expectations (prognosis)

Most people recover in 5 – 8 days.

When a person’s immune system does not work well, the Campylobacter infection may spread to the heart or brain.

Other problems that may occur are:

  • Blood clots in the veins, called thrombophlebitis
  • A form of arthritis called reactive arthritis
  • A nerve problem called Guillain-Barre syndrome, which leads to paralysis (rare)

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if:

  • You have diarrhea that continues for more than 1 week or comes back.
  • There is pus or blood in your stools.
  • You have diarrhea and are unable to drink fluids due to nausea or vomiting.
  • You have a fever above 101°F, or your child has a fever above 100.4°F along with diarrhea.
  • You have signs of dehydration (thirst, dizziness, light-headedness)
  • You have recently traveled to a foreign country and developed diarrhea.
  • Your diarrhea does not get better in 5 days (2 days for an infant or child), or gets worse
  • Your child has been vomiting for more than 12 hours (in a newborn under 3 months you should call as soon as vomiting or diarrhea begins)

Prevention

Learning how to prevent food poisoning can reduce the risk of this infection.

Related:Diarrhea – what to ask your doctor – adult , Diarrhea – what to ask your doctor – child , Bacterial gastroenteritis, Immunodeficiency disorders, Sepsis, Endocarditis, Meningitis, Thrombophlebitis, Guillain-Barré Syndrome

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