Campylobacter Culture (Stool)
Does this test have other names?
Stool sample examination, fecal (poop) smear
What is this test?
This test looks for harmful bacteria in a culture sample from your stool.
One kind of harmful bacteria is Campylobacter. It is the leading cause of foodborne
illness in the U.S. Campylobacter shows up in the stomach of several animals, including
pigs and cattle. But it's most likely to be passed to people through raw and undercooked
chicken and other poultry. In some cases, people have become infected through unpasteurized
milk and city water supplies contaminated with Campylobacter.
The infection usually runs its course in about a week without any treatment. Other
infections may develop, though. They include:
In rare cases, Campylobacter infection may also lead to Guillain-Barré syndrome. This
is a nerve disease that can cause temporary paralysis.
This test can tell your healthcare provider whether you have Campylobacter or a different
type of harmful bacteria in your digestive tract.
Why do I need this test?
You may have this test if your healthcare provider thinks you have food poisoning
or a digestive tract infection. Symptoms appear several days after you've come in
contact with the bacteria. They include:
What do my test results mean?
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses
to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you
may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare
Normal results are negative. This means no Campylobacter bacteria were found in your
A positive result means that the bacteria were found. You may have a Campylobacter
How is this test done?
This test requires a sample of your stool. Your healthcare provider will tell you
how to collect and deliver the sample. If you aren't able to give a stool sample,
your provider may take the sample by putting a swab into your rectum.
What might affect my test results?
Timing is important. If you've been in the hospital for more than 3 days, your results
may not be accurate. Contaminating the sample with urine or toilet paper can affect
How do I get ready for this test?
You don't need to prepare for this test.