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Abstract

Campylobacter is one of the most common bacterial causes of diarrheal illness in humans. This study describes the isolation of Campylobacter lari from seabirds during 4 consecutive summers (2000-2003) in Hope Bay, Antarctic Peninsula. One hundred and twenty-two spontaneously dead Antarctic seabirds were studied. Ten Campylobacter lari isolates from 7 skuas (Stercorarius spp.), 2 kelp gulls (Larus dominicanus), and 1 Adelie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) were identified by phenotypical characteristics. Human activity in Antarctica was identified as a possible source of infectious agents, and migratory birds could be carriers of infectious diseases. However, nothing is known about zoonotic enteropathogens causing diseases in humans living in the Antarctic region. We demonstrated that seabirds carried C. lari in their intestines, and that they were settled around the lakes where humans are supplied with fresh water. Consumption of fresh water from Antarctic lakes contaminated with feces of seabirds could be a risk of human campylobacteriosis. This is the first report of C. lari isolated from seabirds in Hope Bay, Antarctica.
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