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Clin Infect Dis. 2012 Jun;54 Suppl 5:S440-5. doi: 10.1093/cid/cis245.

Clinical laboratory practices for the isolation and identification of Campylobacter in Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) sites: baseline information for understanding changes in surveillance data.

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Connecticut Emerging Infections Program, Yale School of Public Health, 1 Church St, 7th Fl, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.



Campylobacter is a leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States. Understanding laboratory practices is essential to interpreting incidence and trends in reported campylobacteriosis over time and provides a baseline for evaluating the increasing use of culture-independent diagnostic methods for Campylobacter infection.


The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) conducts surveillance for laboratory-confirmed Campylobacter infections. In 2005, FoodNet conducted a survey of clinical laboratories to describe routine practices used for isolation and identification of Campylobacter. A profile was assigned to laboratories based on complete responses to key survey questions that could impact the recovery and isolation of Campylobacter from stool specimens.


Of 411 laboratories testing on-site for Campylobacter, 97% used only culture methods. Among those responding to the individual questions, nearly all used transport medium (97%) and incubated at 42°C (94%); however, most deviated from existing guidelines in other areas: 68% held specimens in transport medium at room temperature before plating, 51% used Campy blood agar plate medium, 52% read plates at <72 hours of incubation, and 14% batched plates before placing them in a microaerobic environment. In all, there were 106 testing algorithms among 214 laboratories with a complete profile; only 16 laboratories were fully adherent to existing guidelines.


Although most laboratories used culture-based methods, procedures differed widely and most did not adhere to existing guidelines, likely resulting in underdiagnosis. Given the availability of new culture-independent testing methods, these data highlight a clear need to develop best practice recommendations for Campylobacter infection diagnostic testing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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