Campylobacter jejuni Gastroenteritis

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By De Wood, Pooley, USDA, ARS, EMU. – Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency., Public Domain,

OpenStax Microbiology

Campylobacter is a genus of gram-negative, spiral or curved bacteria. They may have one or two flagella. Campylobacter jejuni gastroenteritis, a form of campylobacteriosis, is a widespread illness that is caused by Campylobacter jejuni. The primary route of transmission is through poultry that becomes contaminated during slaughter. Handling of the raw chicken in turn contaminates cooking surfaces, utensils, and other foods. Unpasteurized milk or contaminated water are also potential vehicles of transmission. In most cases, the illness is self-limiting and includes fever, diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, and sometimes dysentery. More serious signs and symptoms, such as bacteremia, meningitis, pancreatitis, cholecystitis, and hepatitis, sometimes occur. It has also been associated with autoimmune conditions such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disease that occurs after some infections and results in temporary paralysis. HUS following infection can also occur. The virulence in many strains is the result of hemolysin production and the presence of Campylobacter cytolethal distending toxin (CDT), a powerful deoxyribonuclease (DNase) that irreversibly damages host cell DNA.

Diagnosis involves culture under special conditions, such as elevated temperature, low oxygen tension, and often medium supplemented with antimicrobial agents. These bacteria should be cultured on selective medium (such as Campy CV, charcoal selective medium, or cefaperazone charcoal deoxycholate agar) and incubated under microaerophilic conditions for at least 72 hours at 42 °C. Antibiotic treatment is not usually needed, but erythromycin or ciprofloxacin may be used.


Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: