jejuni is a bacterium that has a requirement for reduced levels
of oxygen. It is relatively fragile, and sensitive to environmental
stresses (e.g., 21% oxygen, drying, heating, disinfectants, acidic
conditions. C. jejuni is the leading cause of bacterial
diarrheal illness in the United States. It is often isolated from
healthy cattle, chickens, birds and even flies and sometimes present
in non-chlorinated water sources such as streams and ponds
jejuni infection causes
diarrhea, which may be watery or sticky and can contain blood (usually
occult) and fecal leukocyte (white cells). Other symptoms are fever,
abdominal pain, nausea, headache and muscle pain. Sickness occurs
2-5 days after eating contaminated food or water. Illness generally
lasts 7-10 days, but relapses happen (about 25% of cases). Most
infections are self-limiting and are not treated with antibiotics
but treatment with erythromycin does reduce the length of time that
infected individuals shed the bacteria in their faeces.
jejuni frequently contaminates
raw chicken( 20 to 100% of retail chickens are contaminated.) Raw
milk is also a source of infections. The bacteria are often carried
by healthy cattle and by flies on farms. Non-chlorinated water may
also be a source of infections. Properly cooking chicken, pasteurising
milk, and chlorinating drinking water will kill the bacteria.
are relatively rare, but infections have been associated with reactive
arthritis, hemolytic uremic syndrome, and following septicemia,
infections of nearly any organ. The estimated fatality rate is one
death per 1,000 cases and usually occurs in cancer patients or in
the otherwise debilitated. Children under 5 years and young adults
(15-29) are more frequently afflicted than other age groups
complications include meningitis, recurrent colitis, acute cholecystitis
and Guillain-Barre syndrome.
of C. jejuni from food is difficult because the bacteria
are usually present in very low numbers.
in New Zealand MMWR
40(7):1991 Feb 22 .