Hippurate hydrolysis test results of 240 Campylobacter strains were compared with those of two multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays. Of the 152 strains identified in Finnish clinical microbiology routine laboratories as C. coli (hippurate-negative), 11% were C. jejuni (hippurate-positive) by standardized hippurate test and 39% by PCR in the reference laboratory. Two of the 81 hippurate-positive strains were identified as C. coli. Standardizing the hippurate test by determining minimum and maximum turbidity limits (McFarland 6 and McFarland 10, OD(450) values 0.8 and 1.4, respectively) for the bacterial cell suspension eliminated the false-positive results, but 32% of the 145 hippurate-negative strains were still identified as C. jejuni by PCR. The species identification of Campylobacter isolates in Finland could be improved by using a standardized hippurate hydrolysis test to identify hippurate-positive C. jejuni and testing hippurate-negative strains by molecular methods. This would also improve the epidemiological data on this important zoonotic pathogen.
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