Scientists have identified the genetic make-up of the bug responsible for the majority of food poisoning outbreaks. The work paves the way for treatments that may eventually prevent or cure gastro-enteritis attacks that are, at best, extremely unpleasant, and, at worst, can kill.
The first food-borne pathogen to be sequenced, C. jejuni is harboured by half of the poultry destined for human consumption. It is responsible for around 60,000 reported cases of food poisoning in the UK each year - over three times more than the infamous Salmonella. The bacterium thrives in the human gut where it can cause severe diarrhoea and, in rare cases, Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neuromuscular condition that can lead to death.