Occurrence: Worldwide.
Species affected: Chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigeons, game birds, quail, puffins, gulls and geese.
Age affected: All ages.
Causes: Microaerophile bacteria- Campylobacter jejuni, C. coli and C. lardis.
Effects: Distension (enlargement) of the intestinal tract, depression, soiled vent, diarrhoea.
Special note: Humans are very susceptible to the organism. Food-borne contamination of uncooked poultry is a significant problem. Up to 2 million cases of enteritis a year may be due to this bacteria.



Campylobacter jejuni, C. coli and C. lardis are microaerophile, gram-negative, spiral and uniflagellate bacteria. Chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigeons, game birds, quail, puffins, gulls and geese can be affected with acute to chronic disease. Contaminated feed and water, litter, cannibalism, houseflies, cockroaches, wild free-flying birds, mice, and exploding eggs in hatchery can spread the organism.

Articles on Campylobacter

Clinical signs

Most chickens are carriers of the bacteria without clinical symptoms. The importance is just for human health fro consumption of inadequately cooked chicken meat containing the bacteria. There is a 24-72 hour incubation period. Depression, soiled vent, and diarrhoea can be seen.

Postmortem lesions

Distension (enlargement) of the intestinal tract, accumulation of mucus, watery fluid and haemorrhages in intestines can be seen. Focal hepatic necrosis may also be present.


Isolation of organism from faeces, intestinal tract, bile, blood or liver is needed. Incubate cultures for 48-72 hr at 43o in a microaerobic atmosphere. Colonies are flat, translucent and grey with a tendency to coalesce or be raised, opaque and brown grey with discrete margins. Selective media include brucella agar, blood agar with various antibiotics including bacitracin, novobiocin and colistin. It simulates coccidiosis.

Treatment & control

Biosecurity measures should be put in place, restrict wild birds, and vermin to prevent the disease. Improved litter treatment including windrow composting and poultry litter treatments to reduce the pH of the litter. Improved level of sanitation in the processing plant including use of chlorine or organic acids washes of poultry carcasses to reduce the attachments of the bacteria.

Many antibiotics are effective. 

Campylobacteriosis insights

Campylobacter, a European problem

Campylobacter remains a major concern throughout Europe, causing multi-million cases of food-borne illness. Unfortunately, current knowledge of Campylobacter is not as advanced as one would wish and, towards this end, much more research is ongoing to better understand the aetiology of the infection and, subsequently, ways to combat it during production.

Articles on Campylobacter