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Pediatric Campylobacter Infections Workup

  • Author: Jocelyn Y Ang, MD, FAAP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
Updated: Sep 30, 2015

Laboratory Studies

See the list below:

  • Microbiologic studies in Campylobacter infection
    • Presumptive diagnosis can be made by examination of fecal specimens by darkfield or phase-contrast microscopy, which demonstrates the characteristic darting motility, and a Gram stain of the stool, which shows Vibrio forms (slim, short, curved rods). RBCs and neutrophils are present in stool in approximately 75% of patients with Campylobacter enteritis.
    • Definitive diagnosis of infection is based on isolation of organisms from stool culture or from another site.
    • Culture of C jejuni from stool requires special isolation techniques and special media such as Campy-BAP or Skirrow. These media contain antibiotics that reduce the emergence of other enteric microorganisms. Inoculated media should be incubated in 5% oxygen and 10% carbon dioxide at 42°C. If C fetus or other atypical enteric species are suspected, isolation from stool requires inoculation on media lacking antibiotics and at 37°C. Filtration technique may be needed. Routine media are adequate for isolation of Campylobacter from normally sterile sites such as blood, body fluids, and tissues.
  • Hematology and blood chemistries
    • Peripheral WBC count is usually within the reference range; however, a left shift may occur.
    • The alanine aminotransferase level and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) may be slightly elevated.
    • Other laboratory evaluations are within the reference ranges.
  • Serology
    • Diagnostic rise usually occurs after symptoms have resolved. Because the median duration of fecal excretion in the convalescent phase is less than 3 weeks, serology testing may be more sensitive than culture for the diagnosis of recent C jejuni infection.
    • Although serologic testing is also useful for epidemiologic investigations it is not recommended for routine diagnosis.

Other Tests

See the list below:

  • DNA probes and polymerase chain reaction are mainly research tools at this time and are not routinely performed.[24]


See the list below:

  • In patients with Campylobacter colitis with history of acute onset of diarrhea, abdominal pain and rectal bleeding, sigmoidoscopy done early (within 5 d) during the illness revealed hyperemic rectal mucosa with occasional shallow aphthous ulcers, whereas findings of granularity and hyperemia were seen in patients whose sigmoidoscopy were done later (≥ 7 d) during the illness.[25]

Histologic Findings

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  • The spectrum of histologic findings in the intestinal tract ranges from minimal edema with acute and chronic inflammatory cells without vascular congestion, to moderate inflammation and cryptitis, to crypt abscess formation.
  • For perinatal infections secondary to C jejuni and C fetus, the placenta may have areas of necrosis, infarction, microabscesses, and inflammation.[19]
Contributor Information and Disclosures

Jocelyn Y Ang, MD, FAAP, FIDSA Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Wayne State University School of Medicine; Consulting Staff, Division of Infectious Diseases, Children's Hospital of Michigan

Jocelyn Y Ang, MD, FAAP, FIDSA is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Sharon Nachman, MD Professor of Pediatrics, Associate Dean for Research, Stony Brook University School of Medicine

Sharon Nachman, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society for Microbiology, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Mark R Schleiss, MD Minnesota American Legion and Auxiliary Heart Research Foundation Chair of Pediatrics, Professor of Pediatrics, Division Director, Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota Medical School

Mark R Schleiss, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Pediatric Society, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Russell W Steele, MD Clinical Professor, Tulane University School of Medicine; Staff Physician, Ochsner Clinic Foundation

Russell W Steele, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Immunologists, American Pediatric Society, American Society for Microbiology, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Louisiana State Medical Society, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, Society for Pediatric Research, Southern Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Itzhak Brook, MD, MSc Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown University School of Medicine

Itzhak Brook, MD, MSc is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, American Medical Association, American Society for Microbiology, Association of Military Surgeons of the US, Infectious Diseases Society of America, International Immunocompromised Host Society, International Society for Infectious Diseases, Medical Society of the District of Columbia, New York Academy of Sciences, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, Society for Pediatric Research, Southern Medical Association, Society for Ear, Nose and Throat Advances in Children, American Federation for Clinical Research, Surgical Infection Society, Armed Forces Infectious Diseases Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Scanning electron microscope image of Campylobacter jejuni, illustrating its corkscrew appearance and bipolar flagella. Source: Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Blacksburg, Virginia.
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