What diseases are caused by Campylobacter Jejuni?
The most common problem associated with Campylobacter jejuni is diarrhea. Infection may cause mild symptoms or a severe case of "dysentery." Dysentery leads to a combination of severe diarrhea with blood and mucus, abdominal pain, vomiting and fever. Some will have muscle aches and a general sick feeling.
Campylobacter jejuni is also associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome. One week to 3 months after some cases of campylobacter infection, it is believed that the body's immune system mistakenly begins attacking the covering of nerves. This causes a temporary paralysis that typically begins in the legs and advances upward to other body muscle groups. Most cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome resolve without treatment, however those children with weakness of the breathing muscles may need to be put on a mechanical ventilator temporarily.
Campylobacter jejuni rarely causes other types of infections in newborn infants and children with a weak immune system.
Where does Campylobacter jejuni come from?
Domestic animals such as cattle, chickens, and dogs serve as a source for human infection with Campylobacter jejuni. The bacteria can be transmitted to humans who drink water or eat food contaminated by the feces of animals. It can also be transferred by human-to-human contact... so, don't forget to wash your hands!
Symptoms typically begin 1 to 7 days after exposure to the bacteria.
What are the symptoms of Campylobacter Jejuni infection?
- Diarrhea, often with blood and mucus
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle pain
- A general sick feeling
Red Flags (seek medical care immediately)
- Severe or persistent diarrhea
- Infants and young children with diarrhea
- Ill-appearing child
- High fever
- Not drinking fluids
- Decreased urine output
- Excessive sleepiness, confusion or unusual behavior
- Blood in stools
How is Campylobacter jejuni infection diagnosed?
All children with severe diarrhea should be evaluated by a doctor. The first priority of a doctor should be to make sure your child is not dehydrated or seriously ill.
A stool sample can be sent to a laboratory to look for evidence of Campylobacter jejuni. This is commonly done with a stool culture. This test may take as long as 2 weeks. More rapid tests are available at some laboratories.
Stool samples may also be checked for red and white blood cells, which are commonly found in the stool of bacterial diarrhea infections.
How is Campylobacter jejuni infection treated?
For children with dehydration, fluids and electrolytes are given.
Mild cases of Campylobacter jejuni infection typically resolve in less than 1 week or in as few as 1 to 2 days.
Severe cases of Campylobacter jejuni infection may require antibiotic treatment and sometimes a child is admitted to the hospital. Erythromycin is an antibiotic that is commonly used for this type of infection.
How can Campylobacter infection be prevented?
- Pasteurizing milk prevents a major source of infection.
- No vaccine is available.
- Proper washing of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Washing your hands after contact with someone with diarrhea (especially after changing an infants diaper)
Photo - This scanning electron micrograph depicts a number of Gram-negative Campylobacter jejuni bacteria, magnified 20,123x.CDC/ Dr. Patricia Fields, Dr. Collette Fitzgerald. 2004. Used with permission.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 01 June 2010 17:53)