Information for Health Professionals
Campylobacter is a gram-negative, microaerophilic genus of bacteria of the family Campylobacteriacae. There are more than 20 species of Campylobacter, not all of which cause human illness. Approximately 90% of human illness is caused by one species, Campylobacter jejuni. Less common species, such as C. coli, C. upsaliensis, C. fetus and C. lari, also cause infection.
Campylobacter jejuni grows best at 37°C to 42°C, the approximate body temperature of a bird (41°C to 42°C), and seems to be well-adapted to birds, which carry the bacteria without becoming ill. These bacteria are fragile. They cannot tolerate drying. Freezing reduces the number of Campylobacter bacteria on raw meat.
A confirmed case is the isolation of Campylobacter spp. from a clinical specimen. A probable case is the detection of Campylobacter spp. in a clinical specimen using a culture-independent diagnostic test (CIDT), such as a polymerase chain reaction test.
The use of CIDTs as stand-alone tests for the direct detection of Campylobacter in stool is increasing. Data indicate that the sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value of these assays vary, depending on the manufacturer (CDC unpublished data). Culture confirmation of CIDT-positive specimens (called reflex culture) is ideal. It can be used to obtain the whole genome sequence, which can provide antimicrobial susceptibility data and molecular subtyping, but reflex culture is not practical in most locations.
- Page last reviewed: April 18, 2013
- Page last updated: August 31, 2017
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