Vol. 4, No. 7
July 2012

CDC invites Lab representatives to join Campylobacter forum

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently invited Mary DeMartino, clinical microbiology lab manager, and Michael Pentella, Ph.D., associate director, to join a group that is developing a best practices document for the diagnosis of Campylobacter.

Campylobacter bacteria

According to the CDC, in 2008, the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) estimated the incidence to be 13 cases per 100,000 people. An estimated 2.4 million persons are affected each year. Complications from infections caused by Campylobacter bacteria can include reactive arthritis (rare and almost always short-term), and Guillain-Barre syndrome, an unusual type of paralysis that lasts several weeks and usually requires intensive care.

The Campylobacter bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses through contaminated food and water, and is the most common bacterial cause of diarrheal illness in the United States. Some of the most recent outbreaks have been traced to the consumption of raw milk. Undercooked poultry is another common vehicle of transmission.

The first meeting of the "2012 Forum on Developing Best Practices Laboratory Guidelines for Campylobacter Diagnosis," was held June 26 at the CDC offices in Atlanta. DeMartino explained that the June 26 meeting included "representatives from public health laboratories, CDC, epidemiology, physicians, clinical labs, commercial labs, industry and the American Society for Microbiology." They met to review current data and establish an action plan to develop the guidelines.

The guidelines will help clinical laboratories make an informed decision on which testing to offer and how to work with their public health lab to ensure that all testing provides the best results to facilitate patient care and outbreak detection.

The Hygienic Laboratory was recently part of a study on both culture and culture independent (rapid) methods available for diagnosing Campylobacter. The forum is a collaborative effort of the American Society of Microbiologists and the Association of Public Health Laboratories.