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Information about Campylobacter and Campylobacter jejuni Campylobacter & Your Family


Campylobacter is the name of a genus of a spiral-shaped bacteria found primarily in the intestines of birds--especially poultry--and other animals. Many birds can carry these bacteria without become ill, and it is estimated that nearly half of all chicken meat in the U.S. has some Campylobacter on it. Untreated water can also carry Campylobacter due to contamination from infected animal or human feces.

One type of Campylobacter bacteria, Campylobacter jejuni, causes an illness in humans called Campylocateriosis. Campylobacteriosis, also called Campylobacter enteritis or gastroenteritis, is characterized by diarrheal illness, usually accompanied by fever, and abdominal cramps. Although almost 99 percent of Campylobacteriosis is caused by Campylobacter jejuni, other types of Campylobacter do account for 1 percent of other infections.

Fortunately, Campylobacter have difficulty surviving when exposed to air. Since they require low levels of oxygen to thrive, many campylobacter infections are prevented by exposing contaminated surfaces to fresh air. Unfortunately, Campylobacter's unusual growth requirements made the bacteria difficult to isolate and study. It was not until 1972 that scientists figured out a way to isolate the organisms from feces and determine they were a cause of human illness. Until then, Campylobacter was known only to cause illness in animals, especially sheep and cattle.

Campylobacter's fragility is not only characterized by its intolerance for oxygen. Campylobacter bacteria can also be killed by drying, heating, disinfectants and acidic conditions. However, only a relatively small number of Campylobacter organisms--as few as 500--can cause an infection in humans. One drop of contaminated raw chicken juice would be enough to infect someone.


Other Food Illnesses @
Campylobacter | E coli | Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
Hepatitis A | Listeria | Norwalk Virus | Salmonella | Shigella

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