Campylobacter Excreted into the Environment by Animal Sources: Prevalence, Concentration Shed, and Host Association

Iain D Ogden, John F Dallas, Marion MacRae, Ovidiu Rotariu, Kenny W Reay, Malcolm Leitch, Anne P Thomson, Samuel K. Sheppard, Martin Maiden, Ken J. Forbes, Norval J C Strachan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


An intensive study of 443 isolates of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli from 2031 fecal samples excreted by animal sources including cattle, sheep, and pigs, a range of wild and domesticated avian species and pets is described. The prevalence found in the majority of animal sources ranged from 22% to 28% with poultry being highest at 41% and cats and dogs lowest (<5%). The average count excreted for each animal source was found not to be significantly different ranging from approximately 10(2) to 10(5) cfu/g. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) identified phylogenies that exhibited host specificity. A number of clonal complexes (CCs) and sequence types (STs) were characteristic of particular hosts (e. g., CC-179, ST-637, and ST-1341 found only in pigeons and gulls). Analysis of genetic distance demonstrated numerous significant differences in the distribution of MLST types (CC, ST, and allele) between animal sources. Host association was quantified using structure that correctly assigned the nine animal sources with accuracies of 28%, 24%, and 55% at the CC, ST, and allele levels, respectively. This is substantially higher than would be expected by random allocation (11%) but farmyard poultry had the lowest assignment accuracy (13%, 13%, and 21%) suggesting that isolates were shared with a wide range of other animals. This study demonstrates the link between MLST type and host and provides data that can be used in risk assessment and food attribution models. Further, it demonstrates the applicability of MLST to characterize Campylobacter strains from a broad range of environmental sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1161-1170
Number of pages10
JournalFoodborne Pathogens and Disease
Issue number10
Early online date19 Oct 2009
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2009


  • infectious intestinal disease
  • risk-factors
  • United-States
  • thermophilic campylobacters
  • poulation-structure
  • enteric pathogens
  • New-Zealand
  • Jejuni
  • diversity
  • food


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