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Dynamics of Susceptibility and Transmission of Campylobacter jejuni in Chicken

Institutions
University of Cambridge
Start date
2012
End date
2014
Objective
The project has three main objectives, which are to: -
  • develop new statistical tools and experimental designs to be used in combined dose-response and transmission experiments.
  • develop novel interpretations of existing campylobacter transmission data, which will generate new hypotheses that will be tested experimentally.
  • explore the theoretical developments necessary to model different strains of campylobacter, which could be applicable to different pathogens.

The research involves applying mathematical models to aid in the understanding of the dynamics of campylobacter colonisation at the flock level. The investigators have already produced a data set which has shown that chickens naturally clear campylobacter infection when they have grown beyond the average slaughter age of 30-40 days. They will set out to use mathematical models to assess this theory and determine a set of mechanisms which can explain the data.

It is also hoped that the data set produced will be able to give an indication of the diversity of different strains of campylobacter and how this can change over a given time period.

This is important as it will enable the development of strategies and interventions to reduce colonisation. The investigators aim to develop a framework that will allow the competition between different strains to be described. This will, in turn, improve the design of future studies.

More information

Background: Campylobacter is a leading cause of bacterial food poisoning in the UK. The largest source of the pathogen is contaminated poultry products. As a result, investigating measures which will limit the number of campylobacter-positive birds in flocks is a major research priority.

Observational studies can examine the burden of campylobacter at the flock level. However, it is difficult to determine whether flocks have lower levels of campylobacter due to individual chickens being difficult to colonise or due to the rate of transmission between chickens being much lower. Traditional observational experiments can only be used to assess transmission and susceptibility independently of each other.

Now a new approach, using mathematical models, will be used to estimate both susceptibility and transmission from a single experiment. This will mean that an enhanced understanding of the biological mechanisms at work within colonised flocks will be achieved.

Funding Source
Food Standards Agency
Project source
View this project
Project number
FS231085
Categories
Bacterial Pathogens
Predictive Microbiology
Campylobacter
Commodities
Meat, Poultry, Game