Campylobacter fetus infections in humans: Exposure and disease

Jaap A. Wagenaar*, Marcel A.P. Van Bergen, Martin J. Blaser, Robert V. Tauxe, Diane G. Newell, Jos P.M. Van Putten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


Campylobacter fetus can cause intestinal illness and, occasionally, severe systemic infections. Infections mainly affect persons at higher risk, including elderly and immunocompromised individuals and those with occupational exposure to infected animals. Outbreaks are infrequent but have provided insight into sources. Source attribution of sporadic cases through case-control interviews has not been reported. The reservoirs for C. fetus are mainly cattle and sheep. Products from these animals are suspected as sources for human infections. Campylobacter fetus is rarely isolated from food, albeit selective isolation methods used in food microbiology are not suited for its detection. We hypothesize that the general population is regularly exposed to C. fetus through foods of animal origin, cross-contaminated foodstuffs, and perhaps other, as yet unidentified, routes. Campylobacter fetus infection should be suspected particularly in patients with nonspecific febrile illness who are immunocompromised or who may have been occupationally exposed to ruminants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1579-1586
Number of pages8
JournalClinical infectious diseases
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014


  • Campylobacter fetus
  • Exposure
  • Food safety
  • Immunocompromised


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