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Survival and Persistence of Campylobacters in Poultry Farm Environments and Identification of Control Measures

University of Bristol
Start date
End date
  1. Identify reservoirs of campylobacters surviving or recycling both within or by re-entering the farm
  2. Investigate the impact of both abiotic and biotic e.g bacteriophage, environmental factors on persistence in the environment and their influence on colonisation and seasonality of campylobacter carriage in broiler flocks
  3. Improve understanding of the mechanisms by which campylobacters survive on the farm
  4. Improve our ability to detect, identify and classify campylobacter strains in poultry farm environments which persist in the bird at slaughter
  5. Evaluate the risks and identify strategies or on-farm interventions to reduce the number of campylobacter colonised flocks entering the processing plant
Although enhanced biosecurity measures on farms appear to reduce colonisation of flocks, the proportion of Campylobacter positive flocks entering the processing plant remains high. This project will identify which areas to target and what strategies to use in order to reduce the total campylobacter load on farm and their ability to persist in the bird until slaughter. This will be achieved by bringing together scientists from a range of disciplines including microbiology, with expertise in aerobiology, bacteriophage and biofilms in the poultry environment, and poultry epidemiologists, specialising in veterinary, molecular characterisation, modelling, and risk analysis.

This team will be aided by advice and collaboration with consultants of international standing from Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, USA and from the UK. The studies will focus on the farm, and will be supported by laboratory studies using environmental samples recovered from the farm, including investigation of the contribution of bacteriophage to persistence of campylobacter. In-vivo chick modelling will investigate the susceptibility of broilers to colonisation of campylobacters in fresh samples, identified as potential reservoirs of infection, taken from the broiler farm environment. The studies will benefit from the probe approach developed, and currently in use for, project OZ0608 to identify sources associated with seasonality and to demonstrate presence/absence of the caecal campylobacter strain in hatchery samples. Links identified by SVR sequence identity will be explored further using MLST.

Information gathered from an on-going Defra project OZ0608 and enhanced during to be commissioned by Defra at the VLA, together with on-going research projects at both participating institutes will inform this project. Close collaboration with the poultry industry will ensure communication of research outputs and that strategies recommended will be adopted.

Funding Source
Dept. for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Project number
Bacterial Pathogens
Food Defense and Integrity
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication