About Campylobacter

From the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Campylobacter and other foodborne illness outbreaks.

Chapter 7

Diagnosis of a Campylobacter Infection

How is Campylobacter infection diagnosed?

Diagnosis of Campylobacter infection is usually based on the isolation of Campylobacter jejuni from a stool culture. [1, 7]

A diagnosis can also be established by the direct examination of a stool sample using contrast microscopy or Gram’s strain. [5, 6] This direct examination provides for a rapid presumptive diagnosis that must still be confirmed by stool culture. [5]

Stool samples should be chilled, but not frozen, for transportation to the testing-lab. [1] Labs now routinely perform culture-procedures on stool specimens that are specifically designed to promote the growth and identification of Campylobacter jejuni and the other species of Campylobacter. [1, 11, 12] Only a small percentage of persons suffering from Campylobacter infections both present for medical care and have their infections culture-confirmed. [5, 12, 26] In the study of one Campylobacter outbreak, only 5.4% of the outbreak cases visited a physician. [28] It is estimated that 12,700 to 13,230 cases are hospitalized each year. [26, 28]

Many persons submit samples for culturing after they have started antibiotics, which may make it even more difficult for a lab to grow Campylobacter. [5] Blood cultures are often not performed and in most cases the blood stream is not infected. [1, 5]

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