Poultry Meat Not the Only Source of Campylobacter

NORWAY - Campylobacteriosis cases might be caused by risk factors other than consumption and handling of poultry meat, according to new research.
calendar icon 27 September 2010
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Malin E. Jonsson of the National Veterinary Institute in Oslo and colleagues there and at the Norwegian Institute for Public Health have published a paper in International Journal of Health Geographics, describing their analysis of cases of Campylobacter spp. in humans and in broiler flocks.

Campylobacteriosis is the most frequently reported zoonosis in the EU and the epidemiology of sporadic campylobacteriosis, especially the routes of transmission, is to a great extent unclear, explain the researchers. Poultry easily become colonised with Campylobacter spp., being symptom-less intestinal carriers. Previously, it has been estimated that internationally between 50 and 80 per cent of the cases could be attributed to chicken as a reservoir.

In a Norwegian surveillance programme, all broiler flocks under 50 days of age were tested for Campylobacter spp.

The aim of the current study was to identify simultaneous local space-time clusters each year from 2002 to 2007 for human cases of campylobacteriosis and for broiler flocks testing positive for Campylobacter spp. using a multivariate spatial scan statistic method. A cluster occurring simultaneously in humans and broilers could indicate the presence of common factors associated with the dissemination of Campylobacter spp. for both humans and broilers, write Jonsson and co-authors.


Local space-time clusters of humans and broilers positive for Campylobacter spp. occurring simultaneously were identified in all investigated years. All clusters but one were identified from May to August. Some municipalities were included in clusters all years.


Jonsson and co-authors found that the simultaneous occurrence of clusters of humans and broilers positive for Campylobacter spp. combined with the knowledge that poultry meat has a nationwide distribution indicates that campylobacteriosis cases might also be caused by other risk factors than consumption and handling of poultry meat.

Broiler farms that are positive could contaminate the environment with further spread to new broiler farms or to humans living in the area and local environmental factors, such as climate, might influence the spread of Campylobacter spp. in an area.

Further studies to clarify the role of such factors are needed.


Jonsson M.E., B.T. Heier, M. Norstrom and M. Hofshagen. 2010. Analysis of simultaneous space-time clusters of Campylobacter spp. in humans and in broiler flocks using a multiple dataset approach. International Journal of Health Geographics, 9:48. doi:10.1186/1476-072X-9-48

Further Reading

- You can view the full report (as a provisional PDF) by clicking here.
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