Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: February 18, 2010
Publication Date: June 3, 2010
Citation: Wesley, I.V., Miller, W.G. 2010. Arcobacter: An Opportunistic Human Foodborne Pathogen? In: Scheld, W.M., Grayson, M.L., Hughes, J.M., editors. Emerging Infections 9. Washington, DC: American Society of Microbiology Press. p. 185-211. Interpretive Summary: Arcobacter butzleri is closely related to Campylobacter jejuni, which is the number one cause of bacterial gastroenteritis. A. butzleri is an emerging foodborne pathogen but is related to a large number of bacteria occupying diverse ecological niches, such as oil sludge. Herein we summarize clinical cases, review its distribution in the food chain, and, based on the recently published genome sequence, probe the molecular basis for its pathogenicity. The unique attributes of Arcobacter and similarities to Campylobacter are explored. This information is critical in assessing the public health significance of this emerging foodborne pathogen.
Technical Abstract: Arcobacter are gram negative, motile, aerotolerant campylobacter-like microbes which grow at 30C. The 10 described Arcobacter species are but a fraction of the total taxa, which encompass bacteria exploiting diverse ecological niches, such as seawater, oil fields, and estuaries. This physiological robustness may underlie its survival in the human food chain. Six Arcobacter species (i.e. A. butzleri, A. cryaerophilus, A. skirrowii, A. thereius, A. cibarius and A. mytili) have been implicated in human illness and/or isolated from food or food animals. Although first recognized in cases of livestock abortion, its role as a veterinary aboretifacient agent awaits fulfillment of Koch’s postulates. A butzleri is a cause of human foodborne bacterial gastroenteritis, has recently been acknowledged as a “significant” zoonotic pathogen, and is closely related to Campylobacter jejuni. Like C. jejuni, A. butzleri is a commensal of cattle and hogs. In marked contrast to C. jejuni, A. butzleri is rarely isolated from live birds; however, like C. jejuni, it is a frequent contaminant of poultry carcasses. Like C. jejuni consumption of contaminated water and poultry are acknowledge risk factors for arcobacteriosis. Whereas C. jejuni accounts for ~2 million human cases annually in the U.S., an estimated ~300 sporadic cases of arcobacteriosis have been documented worldwide since 1990, when the group was first recognized. This may be attributed to lack of clinical awareness and subsequent sub-optimal cultural isolation methods. Advances in molecular biology and the publication of the full genome sequence for A. butzleri (2.3 mb) facilitate comparison with C. jejuni (1.64 mb) and support the hypothesis that members of the genus Arcobacter, unlike Campylobacter, are free-living organisms found predominantly in aqueous environments and occasionally are associated with livestock or foods.