ADLib Glossary (C)

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Campylobacter

Organisms of the genus Campylobacter are pathogens that cause a significant number of diarrhea cases in the UK and is common in the developing world. Campylobacter are microaerophiles, which means that they can survive in a low oxygen environment. What is unusual about the organism, though, is that it also prefers a relatively high concentration of carbon dioxide in the environment.

The most commonly isolated species of Campylobacter is C. jejuni, an organism that causes gastro-intestinal infection. Humans acquire the organisms by eating undercooked chicken or drinking contaminated milk and water. Infection usually leads to fever, cramps, and bloody diarrhea which last for about 1 week. Erythromycin is the preferred antibiotic for treatment.

Many chicken flocks are silently infected with Campylobacter; that is, the chickens are infected with the organism but show no signs of illness. Campylobacter can be easily spread from bird to bird through a common water source or through contact with infected feces. When an infected bird is slaughtered, Campylobacter can be transferred from the intestines to the meat.

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