Myocarditis and Heart Damage from Campylobacter Infection

CampylobacterIn rare cases, Campylobacter food poisoning can cause myocarditis, an inflamation of the heart, even in children. If the Campylobacter causes Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), there is further risk of cardiac damage.

Cardiac diseases associated with these infections have included:

  • acute atrial fibrillation (rapid, irregular, and chaotic atrial activity)
  • myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscle)
  • myopericarditis (inflammation of heart muscle and pericardium)
  • endocarditis (inflammation of endocardium).

In one case, acute myocarditis resulted in enterocolitis, which led to severe impairment of left ventricular systolic function.1 A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases looked at three cases of acute cardiac disease (myocarditis, myopericarditis, and acute atrial fibrillation) associated with these infections.2 Another study published in Acta Medica Scandinavica looked at three cases of carditis associated with the pathogen.3 Two of these patients also developed arthritis as a result of the infection.

Interestingly, one reported case of myocarditis was associated with both Salmonella heidelberg and Campylobacter jejuni infections in a young adult. Given the high contamination rate of poultry with both pathogens, this is possible.


  1. Cox, I.D., Fluck, D.S., Joy, M.D. 2001. Campylobacter myocarditis; loose bowels and a baggy heart. European Journal of Heart Failure 3(1):105-7.
  2. Hannu, T., Mattila, L., Rautelin, H., Siitonen, A., Leirisalo-Repo, M. 2005. Three cases of cardiac complications and review of the literature. European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases 24(9):619-22.
  3. Ponka, A. Pitkanen, T., Pettersson, T., Aittoniemi, S., Kosunen, T.U. 1980. Carditis and arthritis associated with Campylobacter jejuni infection. Acta Medica Scandinavica 208(6):495-6.
  4. Kratzer, Christina, et al. “Acute cardiac disease in a young patient with Campylobacter jejuni infection: a case report.” Wiener klinische Wochenschrift 122.9-10 (2010): 315-319.

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