Occupational Safety


Organisms of the genus Campylobacter have been recognized as a leading cause of diarrhea in humans and animals in recent years. Numerous cases involving the zoonotic transmission of the organisms in pet and laboratory animals have been described. Results of prevalence studies on dogs, cats, nonhuman primates, and group-housed animals suggest that young animals readily acquire the infection and shed the organism. Young animals often are implicated as the source of zoonotic transmission.

The organism is transmitted by the fecal-oral route via contaminated food or water, or by direct contact with infected animals.

Campylobacters produce an acute gastrointestinal illness, which, in most cases, is brief and self-limiting. The clinical signs of Campylobacter enteritis include watery diarrhea, sometimes with mucus, blood and leukocytes; abdominal pain; fever; and nausea and vomiting. The infection generally resolves with specific antimicrobial therapy. Unusual complications of the disease include typhoid-like syndrome, reactive arthritis, hepatitis, interstitial nephritis, hemolytic-uremic syndrome,febrile convulsions, meningitis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Although the treatment of animals with Campylobacter enteritis is useful in the control of the infection, the attempt to eliminate the carrier state in asymptomatic animals might be less rewarding. Personnel should rely on the use of protective clothing, personal hygiene, and sanitation measures to prevent transmission of the disease.