Recent evidence indicates that at least 5% ofacute gastroenteritis stems from infections with the bacterium Campylobacter fetus subspecies jejuni. Since this infection often causes abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea, it must be distinguished from other infectious diarrhea states as well as from inflammatory bowel disease, according to Martin Blaser, MD, of the federal Center for Disease Control in Atlanta.
Adds Raymond Kaplan, PhD, assistant professor at Rush-Presbyterian-St Luke's Hospital, Chicago: "We are talking about an entity which is more common than Shigella or Protozoa and as common as Salmonella."
Campylobacter infection in humans was first reported in 1947; subsequent articles described rare instances of bacteremia and meningitis, probably reflecting infection with C fetus subspecies intestinalis in debilitated patients.
During the 1970s several investigators isolated Campylobacter from the blood of patients with dysentery. Others developed special techniques to isolate it from stool specimens: In 1973, a Belgian investigator, J. P. Butzler,