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Efficient isolation of campylobacters from stools: what are we missing?
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  1. K R McClurg1,
  2. R B McClurg1,
  3. J E Moore1,
  4. J S G Dooley2
  1. 1Northern Ireland Public Health Laboratory, Department of Bacteriology, Belfast City Hospital, Belfast, BT9 7AD, Northern Ireland, UK; jemoore@niphl.dnet.co.uk
  2. 2School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, BT52 1SA, UK

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    The past three decades have witnessed the rise of campylobacter enteritis in humans from virtual obscurity to notoriety, with present isolation rates superseding those of other enteric pathogens such as Salmonella spp. and Shigella spp. in most developed countries. Unlike the salmonellae and other enteric pathogens, most (∼ 99%) clinical reports concerning campylobacter are sporadic, and campylobacter enteritis outbreaks are rare. Although campylobacters are not completely new to applied bacteriology, they have largely evaded traditional techniques used for the isolation of pure cultures, apart from single isolations that were free from competing organisms. Until the development of a selective medium by Skirrow,1,2 these organisms were known mainly by veterinarians as animal pathogens, which were responsible for a wide variety of disorders in cattle, sheep, and pigs.3 Since the development of more sophisticated isolation techniques, the true disease potential of these organisms has become apparent and today campylobacteriosis is regarded as a zoonosis, which is capable of being transmitted to humans by a wide range of domestic animals.3

    There have been several reports describing the inability of selective media to recover certain species of campylobacter, especially the catalase weak or negative organisms, from faecal specimens.4,5 In addition, there are large epidemiological differences between rates of infection with campylobacters between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK; however, no data exist with regard to the rates of isolation of the atypical campylobacters from stool specimens locally. Therefore, it was the aim of our study to evaluate the efficacy of recovery of clinically relevant campylobacters from faecal specimens in Northern Ireland, using …

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