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Clin Infect Dis. 2014 Jun;58(11):1579-86. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciu085. Epub 2014 Feb 18.

Campylobacter fetus infections in humans: exposure and disease.

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Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University.


Campylobacter fetus can cause intestinal illness and, occasionally, severe systemic infections. Infections mainly affect persons at higher risk, including elderly and immunocompromised individuals and those with occupational exposure to infected animals. Outbreaks are infrequent but have provided insight into sources. Source attribution of sporadic cases through case-control interviews has not been reported. The reservoirs for C. fetus are mainly cattle and sheep. Products from these animals are suspected as sources for human infections. Campylobacter fetus is rarely isolated from food, albeit selective isolation methods used in food microbiology are not suited for its detection. We hypothesize that the general population is regularly exposed to C. fetus through foods of animal origin, cross-contaminated foodstuffs, and perhaps other, as yet unidentified, routes. Campylobacter fetus infection should be suspected particularly in patients with nonspecific febrile illness who are immunocompromised or who may have been occupationally exposed to ruminants.


Campylobacter fetus; exposure; food safety; immunocompromised

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