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Campylobacter serology test

Campylobacter serology test is a blood test to look for antibodies to a bacteria called campylobacter.

How the test is performed

A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture

The sample is sent to a lab, where tests are done to look for antibodies to campylobacter. Antibody production increases during the infection. In the initial stage of an illness, few antibodies may be detected. For this reason, serology tests are often repeated 10 days to 2 weeks later.

How to prepare for the test

There is no special preparation.

How the test will feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, you may feel moderate pain, or only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the test is performed

This test is used to detect the presence of antibodies to campylobacter in the blood. Infection with campylobacter can cause aninfectious diarrheal illness. A blood test is rarely done to diagnose campylobacter diarrheal illness. It is commonly used if your doctor or nurse thinks you are having complications from this infection, such as reactive arthritis or Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Normal Values

No antibodies to campylobacter are present.

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What abnormal results mean

An abnormal (positive) result means that antibodies against campylobacter have been detected. This means you have come in contact with the bacteria.

Tests are often repeated during the course of an illness to detect a rise in antibody levels. This rise helps to confirm an active infection. A low level may be a sign of a previous infection rather than a current disease.

What the risks are

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

DuPont HL. Approach to the patient with suspected enteric infection. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 291.

Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap142. 

Giannella RA. Infectious enteritis and proctocolitis and bacterial food poisoning. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger& Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 107. 

Croft AC, Woods GL. Specimen collection and handling fordiagnosis of infectious diseases.In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry'sClinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 63. 

Salwen MJ, Siddiqi HA, Gress FG, Bowne WB. Laboratory diagnosis of gastrointestinal and pancreatic disorders.In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia,Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 22.

Updated: 5/31/2012

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


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