Campylobacter: Animal reservoirs, human infections, and options for control

J.A. Wagenaar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Campylobacteriosis is a frequently diagnosed disease in humans. Most infections are considered food-borne and are caused by Campylobacter jejuni and C. coli. The animal reservoirs of these Campylobacter, and the sources and routes of transmission, are described and discussed. Most warm-blooded animals can be colonized by Campylobacter, but avians, and in particular poultry, are preferred hosts. Much of the world’s poultry production is colonized by Campylobacter. Source attribution studies estimate that 20–40 % of cases are attributed to the handling and consumption of chicken meat, while up to 80 % of cases are due to Campylobacter found in the chicken reservoir. The difference suggests that routes other than through the food chain, i.e. environmental contamination, are important. Thus the most effective interventions would be targeted to primary production. To date, only improved biosecurity is available. If effectively implemented strict biosecurity can reduce the number of Campylobacter-positive flocks, but implementation to this level has proved difficult for the poultry industry. Available interventions in chicken processing plants can substantially reduce Campylobacter numbers on carcasses and consequently reduce the risk to humans. Public health strategies therefore utilize control programs, which aim at reducing the level of Campylobacter by measures along the food chain. It is now recognized that commercially acceptable complementary interventions for primary production, such as vaccines, bacteriophages, feed additives, are urgently needed. Once Campylobacter in poultry is controlled then other minor sources of Campylobacter including contaminated drinking water, direct contact with (pet) animals, and other food items (e.g. red meat and milk), can be addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationZoonoses-Infections Affecting Humans and Animals: Focus on Public Health Aspects
ISBN (Print)9789401794572, 9789401794565
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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