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Comparison of Clinical Campylobacter jejuni in North West England and Northern Ireland

Health Protection Agency
Start date
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This research project will compare the strains of campylobacter occurring in human infections in North West England and Northern Ireland, the results may enable the identification of different risk factors in these two regions.

Campylobacters isolated from human infections in Northern Ireland between January 1998 and December 1999 (approximately 1000 isolates) will be recovered, tested for purity and referred to the Campylobacter Reference Unit (CRU) at Colindale.

All isolates will be typed using serotyping and phage typing, the methods employed for routine typing.

Selected isolates of the more prevalent subtypes will be further characterised in both laboratories by Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE).

This will involve the development of common standard methodology to ensure comparability of results and to facilitate future comparisons.

A common database will be created between the two laboratories to permit exchange and comparison of PFGE data and analytical tools will be developed to facilitate a common interpretation of PFGE patterns.

More information
Thermophilic Campylobacter spp. are the major cause of acute bacterial gastro-enteritis both in Northern Ireland and the remainder of the United Kingdom.

In order to elucidate scientifically the sources and routes of transmission of these organisms to man, reliable sub-typing techniques have to be developed, and shared to facilitate production of harmonised datasets.

The incidence of campylobacter infection in Northern Ireland is much lower than that reported for England and Wales. This may reflect differences in prevalence in food, water and environmental sources of campylobacter or cultural differences such as patterns of food consumption or cooking practices.

It is therefore proposed to use the same typing methods to characterise isolates from Northern Ireland and the North West of England. Any observed differences in subtype distribution will be a possible indicator of different risk factors in these two regions.

Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the Food Standards Agency Research webpage.

Funding Source
Food Standards Agency
Project number
Food Preparation and Handling