Campylobacter Food Poisoning a Leading Cause of Foodborne Fatalities

Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the United States. The majority of cases occur as isolated events, and can be short unpleasant illnesses, or they may lead to severe complications in individuals. Infections can be fatal, resulting in an estimated 120 deaths each year.

Campylobacteriosis, caused directly by bacteria, is an infectious disease and one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates Campylobacter infections affect more than 1.3 million people every year. Most cases are not part of recognized outbreaks, but can be damaging nonetheless.

Certain organisms exist in abundance and are commonly found in the intestinal tracts of cats, dogs, poultry, cattle, swine, rodents, birds, and some humans. The bacteria pass through the feces and cycle through the environment. The bacteria can be found in contaminated, untreated water.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati, Ohio personal injury attorney with experience in injuries due to food poisoning. The Lyon Firm has represented plaintiffs nationwide in foodborne illness claims. 

Symptoms of Campylobacter Infection

People with Campylobacter infection usually present with serious diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. As in other forms of food poisoning, the diarrhea may be accompanied by nausea or vomiting.

Symptoms of infection usually occur within 2 to 10 days after the bacteria are ingested. In some severe cases, physicians prescribe antibiotics. The illness typically lasts about a week. Symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea—can be mild to severe and is often bloody
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain

Two age groups are most commonly affected by Campylobacter: children under 5 years of age and young adults aged 15-29. Anyone may become ill but infants, young children, pregnant women, and older adults are at a higher risk for foodborne illness, as are people with weakened immune systems.

In people with weakened immune systems, blood disorders, AIDS, or people receiving chemotherapy, food poisoning occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a life-threatening infection.

Campylobacter Food Poisoning Infections

Infection caused by Campylobacter bacteria is usually caused by consuming unpasteurized milk, raw or undercooked meat or poultry, or other contaminated food and water. The bacteria can exist in the intestinal tracts of people without causing any symptoms or illness, but studies show that consuming only a few hundred Campylobacter cells can cause the illness.

With good sanitary practices on farms, food processing plants, and distribution chains, Campylobacter can be controlled and minimize the opportunity for the dangerous bacteria to spread among animals and foods. Regular pasteurization of milk and the treatment of drinking water supplies eliminate common routes of transmission.

Contamination in food processing plants is almost always preventable. Food processing companies are accountable for following sanitary guidelines that control the spread of Campylobacter and other bacteria.

Complications of Campylobacter Food Poisoning

Most people with a Campylobacter infection recover completely within a week, and infection rarely results in long-term consequences. However, about 1 in every 1,000 illnesses leads to Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). GBS occurs when a person’s immune system is triggered by an earlier infection, such as a Campylobacter infection and the antibodies the body creates against Campylobacter attack one’s nerve cells.

Symptoms of GBS appear several weeks after diarrheal illness. GBS can lead to muscle weakness or paralysis that lasts for a few weeks to several years, and often requires intensive medical care. Most people recover fully, though some suffer permanent nerve damage, and some have died of GBS. As many as 40 percent of GBS cases in the United States may be triggered by an infection.

Infections may lead to meningitis, urinary tract infections, or reactive arthritis. Some studies have estimated that one to 5 percent of people with Campylobacter develop arthritis. Symptoms, which appear on average 18 days after infection, include inflammation of the joints, eyes, or reproductive organs.

Other complications of food poisoning infections may include cases of appendicitis or infections in other parts of the body like the abdominal cavity, heart, central nervous system, gall bladder, urinary tract, or the blood stream.

If you or a loved one has suffered from food poisoning or a foodborne infection, and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer these critical questions.