Background: Campylobacter is one of the main causes of gastroenteritis worldwide. Most of the current knowledge about the epidemiology of this food-borne infection concerns two species, C. coli and C. jejuni. Recent studies conducted in developing countries and using novel diagnostic techniques have generated evidence of the increasing burden and importance of other Campylobacter species, i.e. non-C. coli/jejuni. We performed a nested case-control study to compare the prevalence of C. coli/jejuni and other Campylobacter in children with clinical dysentery and severe diarrhea as well as without diarrhea to better understand the clinical importance of infections with Campylobacter species other than C. coli/jejuni. Methodology/Principal findings: Our nested case-control study of 439 stool samples included dysenteric stools, stools collected during severe diarrhea episodes, and asymptomatic stools which were systematically selected to be representative of clinical phenotypes from 9,160 stools collected during a birth cohort study of 201 children followed until two years of age. Other Campylobacter accounted for 76.4% of the 216 Campylobacter detections by qPCR and were more prevalent than C. coli/jejuni across all clinical groups. Other Campylobacter were also more prevalent than C. coli/jejuni across all age groups, with older children bearing a higher burden of other Campylobacter. Biomarkers of intestinal inflammation and injury (methylene blue, fecal occult test, myeloperoxidase or MPO) showed a strong association with dysentery, but mixed results with infection. MPO levels were generally higher among children infected with C. coli/jejuni, but Shigella-infected children suffering from dysentery recorded the highest levels (26,224 ng/mL); the lowest levels (10,625 ng/mL) were among asymptomatic children infected with other Campylobacter. Adjusting for age, sex, and Shigella infection, dysentery was significantly associated with C. coli/jejuni but not with other Campylobacter, whereas severe diarrhea was significantly associated with both C. coli/jejuni and other Campylobacter. Compared to asymptomatic children, children suffering from dysentery had a 14.6 odds of C. coli/jejuni infection (p-value < 0.001, 95% CI 5.5–38.7) but were equally likely to have other Campylobacter infections–odds ratio of 1.3 (0.434, 0.7–2.4). Children suffering from severe diarrhea were more likely than asymptomatic children to test positive for both C. coli/jejuni and other Campylobacter–OR of 2.8 (0.034, 1.1–7.1) and 1.9 (0.018, 1.1–3.1), respectively. Compared to the Campylobacter-free group, the odds of all diarrhea given C. coli/jejuni infection and other Campylobacter infection were 8.8 (<0.001, 3.0–25.7) and 2.4 (0.002, 1.4–4.2), respectively. Eliminating other Campylobacter in this population would eliminate 24.9% of the diarrhea cases, which is almost twice the population attributable fraction of 15.1% due to C. coli/jejuni. Conclusions/Significance: Eighty-seven percent of the dysentery and 59.5% of the severe diarrhea samples were positive for Campylobacter, Shigella, or both, emphasizing the importance of targeting these pathogens to limit the impact of dysentery and severe diarrhea in children. Notably, the higher prevalence of other Campylobacter compared to C. coli/jejuni, their increasing burden during early childhood, and their association with severe diarrhea highlight the importance of these non-C. coli/jejuni Campylobacter species and suggest a need to clarify their importance in the etiology of clinical disease across different epidemiological contexts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases