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J Appl Bacteriol. 1989 Jun;66(6):477-90.

A two-year study of the distribution of 'thermophilic' campylobacters in human, environmental and food samples from the Reading area with particular reference to toxin production and heat-stable serotype.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Reading, UK.


The incidence of 'thermophilic' campylobacters in foods and environmental samples has been studied over a two-year period. Of 781 environmental samples, 529 (67%) were found to contain campylobacters, and campylobacters were isolated from 835 (39%) of 2116 food samples. Sewage was almost always contaminated with campylobacters (96.6% of samples) and of the food samples both poultry (55.5%) and offal (47.0%) were commonly contaminated. Determination of the heat-stable serotypes of all strains isolated from these sources and of 921 strains isolated from human faeces showed that there was a wide distribution of serotypes in most types of sample. Serotype Pen 2 was the commonest type found in human faeces (18.9%) and it was also commonest in offal (21.3%), beef (40.0%), sewage (17.7%) and was the third commonest type in poultry. A comparison of culture media and conditions for optimal production of both cytotoxic and cytotonic enterotoxins showed that Brucella Broth incubated under microaerobic conditions for 24 h at 42 degrees C was suitable for both toxins. Detection of cytotoxic activity was most sensitive using HeLa cells. The sensitivities of two ELISA systems and a Chinese Hamster Ovary tissue culture assay for detection of cytotonic enterotoxin were comparable. Not all strains isolated from cases of enteritis in human beings produced toxin; 23.1% produced cytotonic enterotoxin and 17.5% produced cytotoxin. There was no correlation between serotype and toxin production. The wide distribution of campylobacters, indistinguishable from those isolated from cases of enteritis in human beings, leads us to conclude that simplistic statements suggesting that one particular type of food is primarily responsible for cases of human disease should not be made.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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