Campylobacter jejuni
Debra Cartagena

C. jejuni is an emerging food borne pathogen. This microorganism is gram negative, curved and rod-shaped. C. jejuni is microaerophilic, meaning this microorganism requires an environment with reduced levels of oxygen. Because of this characteristic, the organism requires 3 to 5% oxygen and 2 to 10% carbon dioxide. This microorganism grows best at 370C to 420C with a pH less than or equal to 5.0 and salinity.

C. jejuni is now recognized as a serious pathogen. It is the leading cause of bacterial diarrhea illness in the United States. C. jejuni causes the illness Campylobacteriosis, also known as Campylobacter Enteritis or Gastroenteritis. The history of C. jejuni can be traced back to 1886 when Escherich observed organisms resembling Campylobacters in children with diarrhea. In 1913, McFaydean and Stockman isolated Campylobacters in fetal tissue of aborted sheep. In 1957, King isolated related Vibrio from blood samples of children with diarrhea. However, the break through occurred in 1972 when clinical microbiologists in Belgium isolated Campylobacters from stool samples of patients with diarrhea. The development of selective growth media in the 70’s allowed more labs to test stool samples for Campylobacters.

Major symptoms of Campylobacteriosis is diarrhea that can be watery or sticky and contain blood and fecal leukocytes. Other symptoms include, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, headache, and muscle pain. The illness occurs two to five days after ingestion and usually lasts seven to ten days.
There is a target population when dealing with this microorganism. It is possible for anyone to have a C. jejuni infection. However, in the United States, infants have the highest age-specific Campylobacters isolation rate. As age increases in children rates decline until reaching young adulthood. Young adults also have a high age-specific Campylobacters isolation rate.

Isolation procedures from infected individuals require special antibiotic containing media and a special microaerophillic atmosphere. The recovery from foods is very difficult because C. jejuni is usually present in very low numbers. It doesn’t take much of the bacteria to infect a host. The technique requires enrichment broths containing antibiotics, a microareophillic environment and elevated levels of carbon dioxide. Isolation may take days up to a week.

The main food associated with C. jejuni is chicken. Many healthy chickens carry this bacterium in the digestive tracts. If chicken is fully cooked the bacteria dies. Raw milk is another source of the infection. Pasteurized milk contains none of the bacteria. Non-chlorinated drinking water may be another source of the bacteria.

The treatment for C. jejuni infections usually involves fluid and electrolyte replacement. Antibiotic treatments may be necessary for patients with high fever, bloody stool, or more than eight stools in a twenty-four hour period. Antimicrobial therapy soon after developing symptoms can reduce the duration of the illness from ten to five days.

*Disclaimer - This report was written by a student participaring in a microbiology course at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The accuracy of the contents of this report is not guaranteed and it is recommended that you seek additional sources of information to verify the contents.


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