Campylobacteriosis

Description

Campylobacteriosis is an intestinal infection. It is caused by Campylobacter bacteria and mostly occurs after eating contaminated food. Campylobacter bacteria is the most common cause of bacterial gastroenteritis.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of campylobacteriosis are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Discomfort
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in stools

Symptoms generally appear 2 to 5 days, and sometimes even 10 days, after contamination. Symptoms can last 1 to 2 weeks.

Treatment

In most cases, the symptoms go away without treatment. However, drinking plenty of fluids is recommended to prevent dehydration.

If symptoms persist or worsen, call Info-Santé 811 or consult a doctor. He or she will prescribe antibiotics if necessary.

Complications

In rare cases, campylobacteriosis has serious consequences. It can cause meningitis, arthritis or Guillain-Barré syndrome, which is a type of progressive muscle paralysis.

Transmission

Contaminated foods are an important factor in the spread of campylobacteriosis.

A person can develop campylobacteriosis by consuming:

  • Raw meat (for example, raw chicken)
  • Undercooked meat (for example, beef or veal liver)
  • Raw or unpasteurized milk products
  • Untreated drinking water

A person can also develop the illness by touching contaminated objects or through close contact with the feces of an infected person.

Campylobacter bacteria are mainly found in poultry and cattle. However, the bacteria can also be spread to humans through the contaminated feces of certain animals:

  • Pigs
  • Sheep
  • Rodents
  • Birds
  • Dogs
  • Cats

Prevention

To prevent infection with Campylobacter bacteria, adopt good practices at home.

Hand hygiene

  • Wash your hands with soap and water, for example, after using the toilet, after changing a child’s diaper or after touching a person, animal or object that might be contaminated.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before handling food and after handling raw meat.

Food Management

  • Refrigerate meat as soon as possible after you buy it.
  • Avoid handling food if you have symptoms of gastroenteritis.
  • Keep healthy food separate from products that might be contaminated; contact may result in what is called cross-contamination. Use separate cutting boards for foods and clean utensils and countertops after preparing raw meat.

Cooking Food

  • Ensure food is cooked to the safe cooking temperatures This link opens a new window (in French only) recommended for different types of foods. Be careful when cooking veal liver. To prevent the risk of contamination, follow the recommendations of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) for the safe cooking of liver This link opens a new window (in French only). A recent study showed that undercooked veal liver is a risk factor for infection with Campylobacter bacteria.
  • Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of foods.

People at Risk

People can contract campylobacteriosis at any age, but the risk is higher in:

  • Seniors, especially those aged 65 and over
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Young children
  • Newborns

Special Conditions

Campylobacteriosis has been a reportable disease in Québec since the early 1990s. When a test result confirms that a person has campylobacteriosis, the laboratory and the doctor must report the case to the public health authorities.

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