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Digestive health centre

Campylobacter

What is Campylobacter infection?

Campylobacter is a bacterium that causes acute diarrhoea. Transmission usually occurs through ingestion of contaminated food, water or unpasteurised milk, or through contact with infected infants, pets or other animals. According to Public Health England, Campylobacter is the most commonly reported cause of food poisoning in England and Wales.

Symptoms of Campylobacter include:

  • Diarrhoea (sometimes bloody)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and/or cramping
  • Malaise (general uneasiness)
  • Fever

Is Campylobacter infection a serious health concern?

Campylobacter infection can be serious, especially in those with weakened immune systems. In rare cases, Campylobacter infection can cause additional problems such as arthritis or brain and nerve problems. Occasionally, these problems occur after the diarrhoea has stopped.

How is Campylobacter infection diagnosed and treated?

If you think you may have been exposed to Campylobacter infection, seek medical advice. By testing a sample of your stool, the bacteria can be identified.

If you are found to have the infection, you will likely recover on your own without treatment within two to five days. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent becoming dehydrated.

In more severe cases, antibiotics, if given early in the illness, can be used to shorten the length of time you are sick.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on May 04, 2013

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