My neighbor’s child developed Campylobacter. What is Campylobacter and can my son catch it? How can I prevent my son from getting it?
“Need info about Campylobacter”
Dear “Need info about Campylobacter”,
Campylobacter is a diarrhea illness caused by the organism Campylobacter jejuni. It lives in the gastrointestinal tract of domestic and wild birds and animals. The symptoms of campylobacter include; diarrhea (usually bloody in nature), abdominal pain, fever and overall feeling of discomfort. Transmission occurs when a child ingests contaminated food or by direct contact with stool of an infected animal or person. Improperly cooked poultry, untreated water and unpasteurized milk are the main sources. Many times the infection is linked to travel outside the United States, living in a home with a sick pet, or a trip to a dairy farm where children drank unpasteurized milk.
Recent research showed infants and children developed Campylobacter after drinking well water, eating fruits and vegetables prepared in the home and riding in a shopping cart next to meat or poultry. (1) The cross-contamination is thought to occur when food infected with Campylobacter contaminates a surface such as a kitchen counter or shopping cart. Raw Poultry containing Campylobacter can contaminate the countertop during food preparation. Transmission may occur when a child’s food, such as uncooked fruit and vegetables is prepared on the same countertop or surface and then fed to the child. Contamination in the supermarket occurs when shoppers pick out poultry from the meat section and then touch the handle of shopping carts. Children sitting in the front of the shopping cart have direct access to the handle through touching or by putting their mouth on the handle.A child can catch Campylobacter if he comes into direct contact with another child’s infected stool, if he ingests contaminated food or comes into contact with items exposed to the Campylobacter germ.
You can prevent transmission by properly cleaning surfaces and utensils when cooking and preparing meat and poultry. Wash your hands with warm soapy water after cooking and before touching your child. Surfaces that come into contact with raw meat should be washed with warm soapy water or a chlorine based product. When shopping at the supermarket with young children, you can clean off shopping cart handles with disinfectant wipes or purchase a seat or cover which is designed to prevent young children from coming into contact with the cart. Your child should not have contact with a child with Campylobacter who is still in diapers or not potty trained.
(1) Rusk, J. New exposures linked to Campylobacter infections among infants. Infectious Disease in Children. 2006; March: 36.
Lisa Kelly R.N., P.N.P., C.
Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Pediatric Advice About Preventing Infections