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Summer Weather Brings Increase in Campylobacter

Media release November 18, 2008

Summer Weather Brings Increase in Campylobacter

Poor food hygiene and changes in temperature are leading contributors to the increase in food poisoning over the summer season, according to a top Auckland G.P.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of Campylobacter food poisoning in the developed world, with approximately 14,000* Kiwis affected by it annually.

According to the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, in 2005 New Zealand’s rate of reported Campylobacter food poisoning is over four times higher than the United Kingdom.

Over the past nine years, 11 deaths have been associated with the disease in New Zealand.*

Dr Daniel Wu, a general practitioner, says popular pastimes like barbeques combined with the rise in temperature are contributing factors to the increase in cases of food poisoning over the summer months.

“With warmer weather, the bacteria in food tend to multiply faster and hence the increased incidence of food related gastroenteritis,” he says.

While Campylobacter is one of the more common forms of food poisoning, Dr Wu says New Zealanders are also affected by a range of other common food-related cases of gastroenteritis.

Dr Wu says that despite the range of gastroenteritis infections that present at his practice, most patients share a common symptom – dehydrating and potentially debilitating diarrhoea.

“The most common complication from short-term diarrhoea is electrolyte imbalance and dehydration, particularly in younger children. That’s why it is important to encourage fluid and electrolyte replacement,” he says.

Dr Wu says that in most cases of general gastroenteritis treatment of the actual infection is not required, and patients should instead focus on keeping hydrated and reducing the severity of the symptoms rather than the cause.

Dr Wu says Campylobacter symptoms can set in suddenly as the bacteria have a quick incubation period of as little as two days.

“Antibiotics may be warranted in certain bacterial gastroenteritis to shorten the duration and reduce the severity of the symptoms, but generally speaking, even these are often self limiting and only symptomatic and supportive treatment is required,” he says.

Over the counter anti-diarrhoeal medications such as Imodium help to reduce the severity of the symptoms associated with gastroenteritis up so you can get back to optimum health.

Imodium works to normalise the muscle contractions of the intestine which allows the bowel time to absorb water to produce a more solid stool.


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