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National Reference Laboratory for Campylobacter

Many warm-blooded wild animals, domestic animals and pets (birds and mammals) are a reservoir for Campylobacter bacteria without showing any clinical symptoms of disease. In humans diarrhoea is one of the main symptoms of the infectious diseases triggered by Campylobacter. In the Federal Republic of Germany, as in other European countries, Campylobacter is one of the most frequent pathogens of bacterial intestinal infections (enteritis). In 2005, the incidence of human Campylobacter infections overtook the incidence of Salmonella diseases for the first time.

Campylobacter infections in humans are largely food-borne. Insufficiently heated or contaminated meat and meat products (esp. poultry meat) are one of the main sources of infection. Other potential sources of infection are non-pasteurised milk, raw minced pork, non-treated drinking water, ingestion of surface water and contact with pets (in particular puppies and cats suffering from diarrhoea).

The National Reference Laboratory for Campylobacter is attached to BfR. The main focus of its work is on typing and differentiation of Campylobacter isolates which come from animals, food, feed, environmental samples and consumer products. Various molecular-biological methods are available for epidemiological studies.

Main areas of the NRL for Campylobacter

The National Reference Laboratory for Campylobacter within BfR has the following main tasks:

  • Tasks within the framework of the Zoonoses Directive 2003/99/EC
  • Microbiological and molecular biological diagnosis of Campylobacter spp.
  • Co-ordination of national monitoring programmes
  • Organisation of laboratory comparison tests for the qualitative and quantitative detection of Campylobacter in relevant matrices, such as chicken meat/chicken skin, raw milk and chicken feces.
  • Production of quantitative reference material
  • Antibiotic resistance testing
  • Support in clarifying   chains of infection
  • Molecular-biological typing (using MLST, flaA-/porA-sequencing, cpn60, cgMLST and SNP analyses)
  • Molecular detection of antimicrobial resistance markers of Campylobacter spp.
  • Rapid detection using PCR and real time PCR methods
  • Collection of strains
  • Advice to competent food control authorities


Press releases

Date Title Keywords
Chickens frequently contaminated with Salmonella and Campylobacter
Risky delicacy: Pink duck breast


External Links

European Union Reference Laboratory for Campylobacter
Workshop Campylobacter, Arcobacter & Related Organisms (CARO 2017)



Contact person
Dr. Kerstin Stingl (Head of)



Dr. Janine Heise (Deputy Head of)




Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)
FGr 42 - NRL for Campylobacter
Diedersdorfer Weg 1
12277 Berlin


Our Mission Statement

"Science to serve humanity" is the guiding principle of BfR.

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