For over 60 years subspecies of Campylobacter fetus (formerly Vibrio fetus) have been recognized as agents responsible for a variety of veterinary diseases. Such diseases range from abortion in cattle and sheep to hepatitis in poultry to dysentery in cattle. In rare instances, they have also been known to cause disease in humans. However, within the last 3 years, with the advent of microbiological methods that can selectively isolate campylobacters from human fecal specimens, C. fetus subsp. jejuni has become a disease-agent of serious concern. Clinical laboratories from throughout the world are now reporting that C. fetus subsp. jejuni is one of the most common bacterial causes of acute gastroenteritis in both children and adults. Its frequency of isolation is comparable to and in many studies exceeds that at which Salmonella is isolated from diarrheal stools of hospitalized patients. Although the source of the organism could not be identified for many of these cases, food and water have been implicated as being important vehicles for transmitting campylobacters to susceptible individuals.

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