Campylobacteriosis

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Guidance for Personnel Working with Birds at Texas A&M University-Kingsville

What is Campylobacteriosis?

Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial illness caused by Campylobacter jejuni. This bacterium is commonly found in the intestines of poultry, cattle, swine, rodents, wild birds, and such household pets as cats and dogs. It has also been known to be found in untreated water, caused by feces moving through the environment. Campylobacter jejuni is the leading cause of bacterial diarrhea in the United States.

How is Campylobacteriosis spread?

People usually develop campylobacteriosis when they eat undercooked poultry or drink raw milk or non-chlorinated water that has been contaminated with Campylobacter. Campylobacter jejuni may also be transmitted through ingestion of the organism after petting infected cats and dogs, whose coats may contain infected fecal matter. As the bacteria may also be present in human fecal matter, person to person transmission may occur if adequate hygiene is not maintained.

Who is at risk for infection?

Although anyone can have a C. jejuni infection, children under 5 years and young adults (15-29) are more frequently afflicted than other age groups. Persons who are immunocompromised (such as AIDS or medical treatment cancer patients on immunosuppressive therapy) are believed to be more susceptible to health complications following infection with Campylobacter. The elderly could also be more susceptible because of weakened immune systems.

Is Campylobacteriosis infection serious?

Complications are relatively rare, but infections have been associated with reactive arthritis, hemolytic uremic syndrome, and septicemia.

How can I protect myself?

  • Gloves, shoe covers and long sleeved apparel should be worn at all times when working with dogs.
  • Thoroughly wash hands after handling animals.
  • Sanitize lab/surgical areas after animal work.
  • Use disposable supplies whenever possible.

What are the signs of Campylobacteriosis?

Symptoms of campylobacteriosis include fever, headache and muscle pain, followed by diarrhea, stomach pain, and nausea. Symptoms usually occur within 2 to 10 days after the bacteria have been ingested. It will take most people anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to recover.

What do I do if an exposure or injury occurs?

Exposure to aerosols, bites or scratches involving animals or injuries from objects contaminated with body fluids from animals require immediate first aid and medical attention. Notify your supervisor! Then, contact the University Police Department at 593-2611 or dial 911.

This page was last updated on: October 12, 2015