Campylobacter are a group of germs (bacteria) that are a common cause of food poisoning. Typically, food poisoning causes gastroenteritis, an infection of the gut (intestines), leading to diarrhoea and often being sick (vomiting) too.
Campylobacter germs (bacteria) are commonly found in raw meat, particularly raw poultry such as chicken, turkey, etc. Cooking meat thoroughly usually kills the bacteria. They may also be found in unpasteurised milk or untreated water (including ice cubes made from untreated water). Occasionally, mushrooms and shellfish can contain campylobacter.
Symptoms of Campylobacteriosis
Symptoms usually begin within 2 to 5 days after exposure to the organism.
- Abdominal pain and cramps
If symptoms are severe, lack of fluid in the body (dehydration) can occur. You should consult a doctor quickly if you suspect that you (or your child) are becoming dehydrated. Mild dehydration is common and is usually easily reversed by drinking lots of fluids. Severe dehydration can be fatal unless quickly treated because the organs of your body need a certain amount of fluid to function.
Symptoms of dehydration in children
- Symptoms of dehydration in children include passing little urine, a dry mouth, a dry tongue and lips, fewer tears when crying, sunken eyes, weakness, being irritable or lacking in energy (lethargic).
- They also include drowsiness, pale or mottled skin, cold hands or feet, very few wet nappies, and fast (but often shallow) breathing. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency and immediate medical attention is needed.
Dehydration is more likely to occur in:
- Children under the age of 1 year (and particularly those under 6 months old). This is because babies don't need to lose much fluid to lose a significant proportion of their total body fluid.
- Children under the age of 1 year who were a low birth weight and who have not 'caught up' with their weight.
- An infant that has stopped breast-feeding during their illness.
- Any child who does not drink much when they have campylobacter infection.
- Any child with severe diarrhoea and vomiting (particularly if they have passed six or more diarrhoeal stools and/or vomited three or more times in the previous 24 hours).
Symptoms of dehydration in adults
- Symptoms of dehydration in adults include tiredness, dizziness or light-headedness, headache, muscular cramps, sunken eyes, passing little urine, a dry mouth and tongue, weakness, and becoming irritable.
- They include profound loss of enthusiasm (apathy), weakness, confusion, rapid heart rate, coma, and producing very little urine. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency and immediate medical attention is needed.
Dehydration in adults is more likely to occur in:
- Elderly or frail people.
- Pregnant women.
- People with severe diarrhoea and vomiting. In particular, if you are not able to replace the fluid lost with sufficient drinks.
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.
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