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Campylobacter infection

Food poisoning - campylobacter enteritis; Infectious diarrhea - campylobacter enteritis; Bacterial diarrhea; Campy; Gastroenteritis - campylobacter; Colitis - campylobacter

Campylobacter infection occurs in the small intestine from bacteria called Campylobacter jejuni. It is a type of food poisoning.

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Campylobacter jejuni organism
Digestive system
Digestive system organs

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Causes

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 that contains the bacteria. The most commonly contaminated foods are raw poultry, fresh produce, and unpasteurized milk.

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

Symptoms

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

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam. These tests may be done:

Treatment

The infection almost always goes away on its own, and often does not need to be treated with antibiotics. Severe symptoms may improve with antibiotics.

The goal is to make you feel better and avoid dehydration. Dehydration is a loss of water and other fluids in the body.

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

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most people recover in 5 to 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:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if:

Call your provider if your child has:

Prevention

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

Related Information

Bacterial gastroenteritis
Immunodeficiency disorders
Sepsis
Endocarditis
Meningitis
Thrombophlebitis
Guillain-Barré syndrome
Diarrhea - what to ask your health care provider - adult
Diarrhea - what to ask your doctor - child

References

Allos BM. Campylobacter infections. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 303.

Bhutta ZA. Acute gastroenteritis in children. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 340.

DuPont HL. Approach to the patient with suspected enteric infection. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 283.

Haines CF, Sears CL. Infectious enteritis and proctocolitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 110.

Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 140.

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Review Date: 2/24/2018  

Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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