Campylobacter is a Gram-negative bacterium that is frequently found in both humans and animals. It is the most common bacterial cause of human gastroenteritis in the world. The most common species associated with campylobacteriosis are Campylobacter jejuni subsp. jejuni (>90%) and Campylobacter coli (5-10%).
The bacteria normally inhabit the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals such as poultry and cattle, and consequently foods of animal origin can become contaminated. The majority of Campylobacter infections are acquired through the consumption of contaminated water, raw and inadequately pasteurised milk, and undercooked meats (particularly poultry).
Symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever, headache and nausea. Complications are rather uncommon but can be severe and chronic in nature, such as Guillan-Barré syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Current detection techniques for Campylobacter are based on culture under microaerobic conditions. Culture is laborious and time-consuming and results are usually obtained only after 2-4 days. Nucleic acid amplification based technologies have enhanced, simplified and speeded up the diagnosis of bacterial and viral infections. Early and prompt identification of the causative agent for acute infectious gastroenteritis can reduce the severity of disease and help to administer timely and appropriate treatment and to implement infection control precautions in healthcare settings, such as isolation.