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Arch Hellen Med, 28(6), November-December 2011, 746-753


Clinical manifestations and epidemiology of Campylobacter spp infection

K. Mellou,1 E. Velonakis2
1Hellenic Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention, Athens,
2Faculty of Nursing, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

Campylobacter infection usually causes enteritis, the nosological spectrum of which varies from watery, non-bloody diarrhea to severe inflammatory diarrhea with abdominal pain and fever. Bacteremia, Reiter syndrome, Guillain-Barré syndrome and hemolytic uremic syndrome are possible complications of this infection, which can also cause localised infections, such as meningitis and encephalitis, especially in children. Campylobacter infection is transmitted through the consumption of contaminated food or water. The incubation period of the disease is usually two to five days and the transmission period lasts throughout the duration of infection, usually from a few days to a few weeks. According to the most recently published data of the European Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention, the overall incidence of the disease among the 25 countries of the European Union was 44.1 cases per 100,000 population in 2008, and Campylobacter spp was the most frequently reported bacterial cause of acute gastroenteritis and also the most frequently isolated pathogen in stool cultures, surpassing Salmonella spp. In Greece, the surveillance of the disease is voluntary and the available epidemiological data are limited. Risk factors for Campylobacter infection are consumption of poultry, red meat, unpasteurized milk or untreated water, swimming, travelling abroad, contact with animals, consumption of omeprazole or H2 inhibitors, the presence of an underlying condition, etc. The contribution of each of these factors to disease morbidity varies according to the particular characteristics of the population. Only a limited number of analytical epidemiological studies have been conducted in Southern Europe, one of which refers to the urban population of children in Greece. In summer 2009 an outbreak of campylobacteriosis with 54 recorded cases was reported to the Greek public health authorities for the first time. Consequently, it is important for clinicians to be well-informed about the recent epidemiological data of the disease, in order to increase the frequency of laboratory investigation of gastroenteritis cases for Campylobacter spp. In this way, the public health authorities will be able to investigate cases of Campylobacter infection more actively.

Key words: Campylobacter, Epidemiology, Foodborne disease, Gastroenteritis, Risk factor.

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