C. jejuni is No Friend of Mine

January 26, 2009 at 2:40pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

My nemesis has a name: Campylobacter jejuni. You can call it food poisoning from dead bird juice.

You may recall that last week I mentioned I was ill. Mild symptoms began on Wednesday. A fever and more severe symptoms began on Thursday. Friday morning at 2:00am is when the real fun began. I’ll spare you the gory details and say simply that my bathroom was the cause of 2/3 of the residential water usage in Lincoln in Friday’s wee hours. My fever got worse, too. At one point it spiked to 105. That got my attention. Fortunately a little Ibuprofen and simple cooling techniques quickly brought things back into a safer range. I saw my physician later that morning. He ordered some lab work, I went to see the very nice folks over at the lab at St. E’s, and by Sunday I knew the source of my troubles.

Apparently Campylobacter is the most common source of food poisoning in the United States. Campylobacter bacteria live in the guts of birds. That means the most likely source of campylobacteriosis is eating either poorly prepared poultry or other food that was cross-contaminated, perhaps by sharing a cutting board or utensils with an infected bird. Some people show no or minor symptoms of campylobacteriosis. Most people put up with a diarrhea for a few days and the problem resolves itself. A few people—including me—get really sick. A handful die.

Why did I get so sick? Who knows. I was feeling pretty darn healthy before my symptoms came on. I didn’t even have a cold. Fortunately, Campylobacter doesn’t typically transfer from human-to-human so I was extremely unlikely to pass it to my family.

Some of you probably wonder if I have tried to trace the source of the bacteria. I have. A home-based source is all but ruled out. I ate at two restaurants during the probable infection period (2-5 days before the symptoms). I did have chicken at both places, but the chicken itself seemed to have been prepared well. In my mind, cross-contamination is more likely. But what do I know? In any event, there weren’t any obvious warning signs on either plate. What went on in the kitchen? I’m not so sure I want to know the answer to that, though one of the establishments does have an open kitchen.

I’m still not fully back to normal, but at least my fever and achiness is gone, and now that we know the offending critter it is much easier to deal with. Now I get to deal with the unpleasant task of catching up on a backlog of work and finishing this week’s tasks. Giddyup!

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The Comments

beerorkid January 26, 2009 at 3:39pm


Glad to hear you survived.  W e go through a lot of chicken at our house.  I think I will pay a bit more attention to my food handling procedures just in case.

West A Dad January 26, 2009 at 6:06pm

Glad you’re doing better.  Hang in there.

Fletch January 26, 2009 at 9:25pm

That’s a rough time - glad you are on the mend!

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