Quantifying Transmission of Campylobacter jejuni in Commercial Broiler Flocks

T. van Gerwe, J.K. Miflin, J.M. Templeton, A. Bouma, J.A. Wagenaar, W.F. Jacobs-Reitsma, A. Stegeman, D. Klinkenberg

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    Since meat from poultry colonized with Campylobacter spp. is a major cause of bacterial gastroenteritis, human exposure should be reduced by, among other things, prevention of colonization of broiler flocks. To obtain more insight into possible sources of introduction of Campylobacter into broiler flocks, it is essential to estimate the moment that the first bird in a flock is colonized. If the rate of transmission within a flock were known, such an estimate could be determined from the change in the prevalence of colonized birds in a flock over time. The aim of this study was to determine the rate of transmission of Campylobacter using field data gathered for 5 years for Australian broiler flocks. We used unique sampling data for 42 Campylobacter jejuni-colonized flocks and estimated the transmission rate, which is defined as the number of secondary infections caused by one colonized bird per day. The estimate was 2.37 +/- 0.295 infections per infectious bird per day, which implies that in our study population colonized flocks consisting of 20,000 broilers would have an increase in within-flock prevalence to 95% within 4.4 to 7.2 days after colonization of the first broiler. Using Bayesian analysis, the moment of colonization of the first bird in a flock was estimated to be from 21 days of age onward in all flocks in the study. This study provides an important quantitative estimate of the rate of transmission of Campylobacter in broiler flocks, which could be helpful in future studies on the epidemiology of Campylobacter in the field.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)625-628
    JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • chicken flocks
    • colonization
    • spp.

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    van Gerwe, T., Miflin, J. K., Templeton, J. M., Bouma, A., Wagenaar, J. A., Jacobs-Reitsma, W. F., Stegeman, A., & Klinkenberg, D. (2009). Quantifying Transmission of Campylobacter jejuni in Commercial Broiler Flocks. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 75(3), 625-628. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01912-08