There are various strains of Campylobacter that can infect the digestive tract which often results to episodes of diarrhea. The bacteria generally inhabit the digestive tract of several farm animals. The feces of these animals might contaminate water in streams and lakes. Unpasteurized milk and meat can also be contaminated.
What are the indications?
The indications of Campylobacter infection typically manifest 2-5 days after being exposed and can continue for up to a week. The symptoms of Campylobacter colitis include abdominal pain and diarrhea. The diarrhea might be blood-streaked and accompanied by vomiting, nausea, muscle aches, headache and fever from 100-104 degrees F.
What are the complications?
- Bacteremia – this infection involves the bloodstream which occurs briefly in some individuals with colitis. This type of infection does not usually cause any symptoms or further complications. Nevertheless, the bloodstream is continuously infected in some individuals.
- Reactive arthritis – this can develop days to weeks after diarrhea resolves. In most cases, the condition triggers inflammation and pain in the hips, knees and the Achilles tendon.
- Guillain-Barre syndrome – this is a nerve disorder that develops in some individuals with Campylobacter colitis since antibodies produced by the body to fight the infection might also attack the nerves.
How is it diagnosed
The doctor will take a sample of stool and sent to the laboratory for culture. Nevertheless, the stool is not always tested. The stool cultures might take days to complete and the doctor do not usually need to know the type of bacteria responsible for causing the diarrhea to manage it effectively. Nevertheless, if an individual has blood-streaked diarrhea or appear severely sick, the stool is tested.
Many individuals usually get better after a week or so without requiring specific treatment. In some cases, increased intake of fluids orally or intravenously is required.
Those who have blood-streaked or severe diarrhea, high fever or worsening symptoms might be required to undergo treatment using azithromycin for 3 days or erythromycin for 5 days. Both of these antibiotics are taken orally.
In case the bloodstream is infected, antibiotics such as gentamicin, imipenem or erythromycin should be used for 2-4 weeks.