Campylobacter infections during pregnancy, infections with an organism called campylobacter jejuni, are the #1 cause of foodborne gastroenteritis aka food poisoning in the United States and other developed countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Campylobacter is considered to be the most common bacterial cause of human gastroenteritis in the world. Symptoms of capylobacter infections include diarrhea, nause, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Search it HERE on PubMed.
Consuming food or water that contains the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni causes an infection called campylobacteriosis. C. jejuni is found in the intestinal tracts of animals (especially chickens) and in untreated water. It's a very common cause of diarrhea accompanied by fever in the United States. C. jejuni is easily destroyed by heat (120 degrees F).
Campylobacter infections are generally mild, but can be fatal among very young children, elderly, and immunosuppressed individuals. The bacteria normally inhabit the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals such as poultry and cattle, and are frequently detected in foods derived from these animals. Campylobacter species can be killed by heat and thoroughly cooking food.
Campylobacter are mainly spiral-shaped, “S”-shaped, or curved, rod-shaped bacteria. Currently, there are 17 species and 6 subspecies assigned to the genus Campylobacter, of which the most frequently reported in human diseases are C. jejuni (subspecies jejuni) and C. coli. Other species such as C. lari and C. upsaliensis have also been isolated from patients with diarrheal disease, but are reported less frequently.
In general, infections with caplyobacter jejuni or C.jejuni are self-limiting and treatment is not necessary. However, infections caused by this organism can lead to potentially dangerous long-term consequences for some individuals. Bacteremia, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS; an acute flaccid paralytic disease), and reactive arthritis (ReA) are the most serious of the long-term consequences of C. jejuni infections.
Symptoms usually appear within 2 to 5 days after eating the contaminated food and include fever, stomach cramps, muscle pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Infection from C. jejuni may be treated with certain antibiotics.
Although pregnant women in and by themselves are not at an increased risk of campylobacteriosis, they can become infected like anyone else. If a pregnant woman has a C.jejuni infection, infection from this bacteria can result in transmission to the placenta and fetus and significant pregnancy complications. Consequences of fetal infection include abortion, stillbirth or preterm delivery.During pregnancy, any foodborne infection may be hazardous to both the woman and the fetus. C. jejuni-induced bacteremia during pregnancy is especially dangerous and may lead to significant pregnancy complications such as intrauterine infection of the fetus, abortion, stillbirth, or early neonatal death. In addition, the newborn may become infected by the mother during the birth process or shortly after birth. A newborn infection with C.jejuni may lead to neonatal enteritis, bacteremia, and/or meningitis. C. jejuni enteritis is the inducing antecedent infection in approximately 30% of cases of GBS.
C. jejuni is most often found in raw (unpasteurized) milk and raw milk products, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, and raw shellfish. Organisms are destroyed at temperatures over 165 degree Fahrenheit (74 degree Celsius).
To avoid campylobacteriosis (and many iother foodborn infections), pregnant women are advised to:
- consume only pasteurized milk and milk products
- to thoroughly cook meat, poultry and shellfish.
- wash hands before and after touching food
- Hands, surfaces, cutting boards and utensils that come in contact with raw meat, poultry or fish should be washed well with hot, soapy water.