Campylobacter---Did it come from the chickens?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by bragabit, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. bragabit

    bragabit Chillin' With My Peeps

    473
    0
    139
    Mar 26, 2009
    Southern Utah
    My 2 year old got very sick with bloody stools and fever. I took him to the doctor and had blood and stool samples taken. It took a while to get the results back. Finally they said it was Campylobacter. The doctor told me it usually comes from Mountain spring water. But today the health department called me and they gave me the 3rd degree (but she was super nice about it) and went over all the places we have been, things we have eaten and over our home. When I brought up we have chickens she was very quick to say that the chickens ALWAYS carry this germ and that he most likely got it from their poop.

    Well he walks back and gathers eggs and stuff, but I have never washed my eggs before??

    So the health department narrowed it down to three things:

    -The chickens
    -My irrigation water
    -A melon from a produce stand

    Now supposedly my son should be immune from now on to this infection. But do I dare sell eggs? How do I know if my hens are carrying the germ??
     
  2. miss_thenorth

    miss_thenorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2007
    SW Ont, Canada
    Well, that sucks. (and sorry about your son). Is there anyway you can get your eggs or chickens tested to see if it was in fact your birds? Or if not, at least wash the eggs with some type of solution that would combat the campobylacter. ??? .
     
  3. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    Campylobacter can be cultured (grown) in the lab. So your dr or vet should be able to submit a swab (you need to get the swab kit from them or the lab) and they can tell you if the chickens, water, or melon (if you still have any of it, and the bacteria is usually on the outer rind not the fruity innards) are infected.

    If everyone else ate the melon and did not get sick, I'd rule that one out unless your son had some 1 on 1 time with the rinds, garbage remaining after you cut it up, etc. The irrigation water is a strong player because it's not moving fast (highly oxygenated). But having worked in a lab, we all take birds into consideration with Campylobacter. A bird's body temperature is the perfect incubation temperature for this bacteria. That's probably why they gave you the 3rd degree on the chickens. The bacteria does not survive well inside an egg, if your chickens are infected internally. However, they may be excreting it in their feces. That is can be more common. And since the egg is layed through the same opening, cloaca, as feces are passed...well you could have contamination on the shells of the eggs. But, if it is going to make you feel better, swab away and have it cultured. If it were me, but remember I do my own labwork if I want, I would swab several of the chickens' vents and also take a good smattering of fecal material. Remember fresher gets better results. So collect it very early in the morning from under the roosts and get it to the lab within and hour or two. With the fecal specimen I would ask for a proper collection container from the lab, collect from several piles, and definitely collect from anything that looks bloody/mucous/loose/abnormal as well as a bit from here and there just to cover all the bases. Then you'll know.

    Eggs can be contaminated externally (on the shells). But this bacteria does not like dryness. So generally, unless you have a dirty egg and it is still wet, the bacteria will die as the feces on the shell dry out. And it doesn't seem to migrate into the egg if the shell is contaminated. It is rarely found in refrigerated eggs (they looked at eggs that were purposely contaminated, then refrigerated for 7 days), even after they purposely contaminated some eggs on the shells. And of course, cooking eggs thoroughly would take care of anything that might rarely be lurking inside.

    http://etd.ohiolink.edu/view.cgi?acc_num=osu1047067618

    Other thoughts that I had are dogs, cats, livestock that drink the irrigation water. They often will not show many symptoms.
     
  4. bragabit

    bragabit Chillin' With My Peeps

    473
    0
    139
    Mar 26, 2009
    Southern Utah
    Quote:My kids played in the irrigation water. I also wondered if my son might of stepped in some chicken poo and got microscopic germs into his mouth...Gross i know, but I am willing to to admit I let me kids run barefoot. I feel guilty and I am willing to do what I need to protect others. If my chickens have it, then what do we do?
     
  5. justbugged

    justbugged Head of the Night Crew for WA State

    7,878
    14
    273
    Jan 27, 2009
    Enumclaw
    I would be more likely to believe that the 2 year old that is out collecting eggs with mom is more likely going to touch fresh poop, and not wash their hands before inserting into its mouth. The eggs themselves are an unlikely source. Unless of course that the eggs are covered with poop before they are collected. . If the eggs are collected everyday they are much more likely to stay clean. I would probably keep the munchkin out of the coop and run, until they are old enough to wash their hands before inserting their hand into their mouth.

    I am very sorry that your son was so sick.
     
    AUChickenGal likes this.
  6. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    It is a bacteria, so it can be treated with antibiotics. However, there are tons of studies showing the drug resistance that Campylobacter in poultry has to the common antibiotics used to treat it. And at one point I read a study that the FDA was going to ban the use of fluoroquinolone (antibiotic of choice) in poultry because of resistance developing, which then transfers to resistance in humans = how would we treat an infection in humans if everyone is resistant to a pretty powerful drug? There aren't many more powerful antibiotics than fluoroquinolones so we don't want to over use them or develop resistance.

    That being said, and that you have a small flock, I guess it would be up to your vet if they would dispense the meds for treatment of your chickens. And remember that more than 50% (a good bit more than 50%, some studies in the 80% range) of raw poultry tested is positive for campylobacter. On the other hand, if the irrigation water is the culprit, the chickens will become re-infected quickly.

    One of my splurges (for financial as well as "green" choices) is to use wet wipes vs a sponge or dishrag in the kitchen to clean countertops. Otherwise you are just spreading germs.

    And well, toddler...lots of hand to mouth chances. If you have other livestock it could be in their manure as well, especially if the irrigation water is contaminated. Water studies are usually pretty cheap, at least they are at our state lab and county extension office. They can easily culture for Campylobacter if you are specific about what you are looking for when submitting the specimen.

    But beyond your irrigation water, livestock, manure situation...we are all exposed to this stuff every day. For most healthy adults we would have a few days of feeling icky and spending more time in the bathroom. In your case, the illness was in a young child with a lesser immune system than a healthy adult. So diarrhea for a few days = trip to the doctor = specific diagnosis. So maybe, something to think about anyway, instead of going to the ends of the Earth for a specific reason for the infection you can concentrate on the other side of the coin and up the soap and water routine until the little guy is a bit older. Maybe go for the wet wipes in the bathrooms, kitchen, and whenever the little guy walks past you. I don't advocate becoming a germophobe. But sometimes we need to up the prevention in some cases. Please don't feel that I have made a judgment about your housekeeping or mothering skills. You would NOT want to eat off the floors in my house and I actually let my daughter put an earthworm in her mouth when she was crawling on our patio as an infant. And I have an educational background in anything that can make you sick! Do your best to boost his immune system with plenty of sleep and a healthy diet. But really, if he normally isn't sick more than other kids his age, jeesh, any one of us could have gotten infected and I wouldn't be worried about it, just take a few more precautions if it would make you feel better.

    After thinking this through, I think if I were going to test anything, I would start with that irrigation water. If it came back positive then you would have to assume that anything (any of your livestock, grass, vegetable garden using that water) that has contact with the water is going to be contaminated. That would be a situation for your local ag folks, depending on the level of contamination. And you would most likely just end up increasing your soap/water game anyway in the end because you probably don't have a way to keep the water from being contaminated.

    hmmm...which came first...the chicken or the egg...the water or the manure contaminating the water?????? Whether you answer the question or not is up to you. But I still might vote for the wet wipes and some waterless hand sanitizer first.
     
  7. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    30,361
    159
    446
    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Oh great, one more thing to worry about... Keep the chickens penned up when it's my irrigation turn.
     
  8. bragabit

    bragabit Chillin' With My Peeps

    473
    0
    139
    Mar 26, 2009
    Southern Utah
    Quote:One thing that is worth noting. Is yesterday I talked to her about using hand sanatizer and wipes on everything. She said this bacteria wouldn't be killed by the sanitizer. I am not sure how they know that.
     
  9. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    http://www.parish-supply.com/pdf/0325392-specs.pdf

    Maybe
    this info is biased, from the sanitizer manufacturer...but check out page 4...>99%

    and yet another from the CDC

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5605a4.htm

    The person you spoke with may be referring to really dirty, grimy hands where there is debris embedded in the skin and under the nails. In those cases you definitely want to use the soap and water (lots of water) technique, then finish off with hand sanitizer if you want. I keep hand sanitizer in all of our cars, many places around the house that we pass by all the time (breakfast bar, by the exterior doors, key rack), and in all of our backpacks/purses. We use it every time we enter a vehicle (especially if we've been in a store), coming and going from the house, ...and it has really reduced the incidence of colds and illness in our household. My husband is a teacher, I work with school buses, and our daughter is a college student who utilizes public transportation daily.

    The only way to definitively disinfect surfaces, IMO, is with a bleach solution or other CDC approved commercial disinfectant. However, that's not really practical in most homes. So I vote for reducing the spread of germs by wiping surfaces with disposable sanitizer wipes, not diaper wipes (most do not contain disinfectant, just soap stuff), and throw them away after each surface. So use one for each different countertop, one for the breakfast bar, one for the stove...you get the idea...don't spread the germs from one surface to the next with a sponge or dishrag. I do bleach our toilets, showers, and bathroom surfaces at least weekly. And I run our underwear load last each week (and add bleach to the wash, you can only have white undies at my house!) and then run the machine with just bleach and hot water when finished.

    One of the tv programs did a swab test on household surfaces. Some of the most contaminated areas in our homes are kitchen and bathroom surfaces, door knobs, remote controls, telephones. Also, keep your toothbrushes in a drawer or covered when not in use. Then ask everyone to remember to close the lid on the toilet before flushing. When the water is flushed some of it becomes airborne in tiny droplets that then land on surfaces as far away as 10'. EWWWWWWWW!!!!!
     
  10. bragabit

    bragabit Chillin' With My Peeps

    473
    0
    139
    Mar 26, 2009
    Southern Utah
    Thank you so much for the info friends!!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by