Eighty six of 106 (81%) guests attending a party were followed up after an outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni enterocolitis. Acute diarrhoeal illness was reported in 35 subjects (33%), of whom seven showed acute rheumatic symptoms either alone or with other symptoms of infection with C jejuni. The antibody response to C jejuni corresponded well with the intensity of the disease. In the early phase of the gastrointestinal disease the patients with acute rheumatic symptoms displayed significantly higher IgM antibody levels in serum samples than the other patients in this study. Levels of antibodies to C jejuni were increased in serum samples from 31 patients (29%) without symptoms of infection with C jejuni. At a follow up after five and a half years, four of these patients suffered from chronic rheumatic disorders. One HLA-B27 positive woman developed reactive arthritis with a relapse seven years later. The remaining 20 subjects (19%) remained healthy and their antibody tests and stool cultures were negative for C jejuni. It is concluded that C jejuni enterocolitis is significantly associated with rheumatic symptoms in the early phase and may also cause chronic rheumatic disorders.
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