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Epidemiological studies and development of practical control measures for Campylobacter in broiler flocks - OZ0608

The aims of this project are to:

1. Provide a better understanding of the major sources of Campylobacter infection in broiler flocks
2. Develop and evaluate, with industry, a practical control package to reduce the introduction and spread of Campylobacter in different types of broiler flocks using theoretical and empirical approaches

The adoption of on-farm control measures by the poultry industry is needed to reduce the number of Campylobacter-infected birds that enter processing plants, and therefore the number of human cases of campylobacteriosis associated with poultry meat consumption. Enhanced biosecurity on poultry farms would be expected to control other zoonoses, for example Salmonella, and improve the health, productivity and welfare of poultry flocks. However, the epidemiology of Campylobacter in poultry is complex and the development of suitable control strategies is problematic. This project will meet this challenge by bringing together scientists from a range of disciplines including bacteriology, epidemiology, statistics and socio-economics. Close collaboration with industry will ensure timely communication of the research outputs and that a sustainable, practical and cost-effective control package which is more likely to be adopted is developed. The diversity of poultry production systems (e.g., conventional, organic and free-range) will be addressed by the project.

01 Data collation and analysis (30/06/2003; Month 15) (VLA 80 %: Bristol 20 %)
Data on the occurrence and control of Campylobacter in broiler flocks in the UK and other European countries will be identified, collated and analysed to inform the QRA, field studies and control package development.

02 Quantitative risk assessment (QRA) (31/03/2006; Month 48) (VLA 100 %)
The QRA model for Campylobacter in chickens at the point of slaughter previously developed by VLA [29] will be modified to incorporate different sources of Campylobacter and different production systems (organic and free-range). Other Objectives will provide inputs for the model and the model will inform other project work.

03 Development of PCR-based test (31/07/2002; Month 4) (VLA 100 %)
Strain-specific DNA sequences will be identified in poultry isolates of C. jejuni/C. coli. Primers and probes will be designed to best exploit inter-strain sequence differences and will be used to develop a PCR-based test that can detect different strains of C. jejuni/C. coli in environmental samples.

04 Preliminary study (31/05/2003; Month 14) (VLA 50 %: Bristol 50 %)
A study will be conducted on a few (e.g., 2) farms so that the new PCR-based test(s) can be compared with existing ‘gold standard’ methods (eg culture and fla-typing/PFGE) for the detection of poultry Campylobacter strains in environmental samples. The sensitivity of new and existing tests will be evaluated and a standardised sampling protocol will be formulated.

05 Large-scale longitudinal farm study (31/03/2005; Month 36) (VLA 50 %: Bristol 50 %)
The aim is to identify the major sources of Campylobacter for broiler flocks by using a standardised sampling protocol, the most sensitive detection methods available and a questionnaire for management and flock data on many (e.g., up to 50) farms.

06 Organic and free-range flocks study (31/03/2004; Month 24) (VLA 20 %: Bristol 80%)
Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies to determine when organic and free-range flocks become colonised (lag-phase) and the prevalence of different Campylobacter strains in chickens at slaughter.

07 Development of practical control package (31/03/2006; Month 48) (VLA 80 %: Bristol 20%)
Throughout the project theoretical (QRA and economic models) and empirical (field studies) approaches will be used to develop, with industry, a cost-effective, practical control package for Campylobacter in broiler flocks. Socio-economic techniques will be used to assess farmers’ attitudes to current practices related to control measures for Campylobacter. Adoption of the project’s control package by innovators in the poultry industry will be sought, and, if adopted, microbiological and epidemiological advice will be provided and the effectiveness of control measures will be quantified by the project.

The VLA contractor and their subcontractors will undertake the research for Objectives 01, 02, 03, 04 (protocol design, sampling support, molecular typing, data handling and analyses), 05 (protocol design, molecular typing, data handling and analyses), 06 (molecular typing) and 07.

The Bristol contractor and their subcontractors will undertake the research for Objectives 04 (sampling and microbiology), 05 (sampling and microbiology), 06 (protocol design, sampling, microbiology, data handling and analyses), and will contribute to the research of the VLA contractor and subcontractors for Objectives 01 (data collection) and 07 (provide support to industry for sampling and microbiology).

A completion date and indication of the relative contribution by each contractor for each Objective are given in brackets. A Gantt chart with a timetable for the Objectives is given in Appendix C.

Project Documents
• Final Report : Epidemiological studies and development of practical control measures for Campylobacter in broiler flocks   (416k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2002

To: 2006

Cost: £859,393
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Bristol, Veterinary Laboratories Agency
Animal Health              
GM Non-Food              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Animal Health