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For further information, see CMDT Part 33-22: Infections Caused by Campylobacter Species

Key Features

  • Microaerophilic, motile, gram-negative rods

  • Two species infect humans

    • Campylobacter jejuni, an important cause of diarrheal disease

    • Campylobacter fetus subsp fetus, typically causes systemic infection and less frequently gastroenteritis

  • Dairy cattle and poultry are important reservoirs

Clinical Findings

  • Campylobacter gastroenteritis

    • Fever

    • Abdominal pain

    • Diarrhea characterized by loose, watery, or bloody stools

    • Disease is self-limited, but its duration can be shortened with antimicrobial therapy

  • C fetus

    • Causes systemic infections that can be fatal, including primary bacteremia, endocarditis, meningitis, and focal abscesses

    • Infrequently causes gastroenteritis

    • Infected patients are often elderly, debilitated, or immunocompromised

    • Closely related species, collectively termed "Campylobacter-like organisms," cause bacteremia in HIV-infected individuals


  • Blood culture

  • Stool culture


  • Either azithromycin, 1 g orally as single dose, or ciprofloxacin, 500 mg twice daily orally for 3 days, is effective

  • However, fluoroquinolone resistance among C jejuni isolates has been increasing and susceptibility testing should be routinely performed

  • C fetus

    • Systemic infections respond to therapy with gentamicin, carbapenems, ceftriaxone, or ciprofloxacin

    • Ceftriaxone, meropenem, or chloramphenicol should be used to treat CNS infections because of their ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier

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