Derrick Fouts and his colleagues have taken this comparative approach with Campylobacter. Infection with a Campylobacter species is one of the most common causes of human bacterial gastroenteritis. In the US, 15 out of every 100,000 people are diagnosed with campylobacteriosis every year, and with many cases going unreported, up to 0.5% of the general population may unknowingly harbor Campylobacter in their gut annually. Diarrhea, cramps, abdominal pain, and fever develop within 2? days of picking up a pathogenic Campylobacter species, and in most people, the illness lasts for 7?0 days. But the infection can sometimes be fatal, and some individuals develop Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which the nerves that join the spinal cord and brain to the rest of the body are damaged, sometimes permanently.
Campylobacteriosis is usually caused by C. jejuni, a spiral-shaped bacterium normally found in cattle, swine, and birds, where it causes no problems. But the illness can also be caused by C. coli (also found in cattle, swine, and birds), C. upsaliensis (found in cats and dogs), and C. lari (present in seabirds in particular). Disease-causing bacteria generally get into people via contaminated food, often undercooked or poorly handled poultry, although contact with contaminated water, livestock, or household pets can also cause disease.
In 2000, C. jejuni was the first food-borne pathogen to b