Epidemiology and Infection

The seasonal distribution of campylobacter infection in nine European countries and New Zealand

G.  NYLEN  a1 a2, F.  DUNSTAN  a3, S. R.  PALMER  a2 a3 c1, Y.  ANDERSSON  a4, F.  BAGER  a5, J.  COWDEN  a6, G.  FEIERL  a7, Y.  GALLOWAY  a8, G.  KAPPERUD  a9, F.  MEGRAUD  a10, K.  MOLBAK  a11, L. R.  PETERSEN  a12 and P.  RUUTU  a13
a1 European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training, France
a2 PHLS, Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC), Wales
a3 University of Wales, College of Medicine, Wales
a4 Swedish Institute of Infectious Disease Control, Sweden
a5 Danish Zoonosis Centre, Denmark
a6 Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental Health, Scotland
a7 Hygiene-Institut der Univ. Graz, Austria
a8 ESR, New Zealand
a9 National Institute of Public Health, Norway
a10 Université de Bordeaux, France
a11 Statens Serum Institute, Denmark
a12 Robert Koch Institute, Germany
a13 National Public Health Institute, Finland


In all temperate countries campylobacter infection in humans follows a striking seasonal pattern, but little attention has been given to exploring the epidemiological explanations. In order to better characterize the seasonal patterns, data from nine European countries and New Zealand have been examined. Several European countries with weekly data available showed remarkably consistent seasonal patterns from year to year, with peaks in week 22 in Wales, week 26 in Scotland, week 32 in Denmark, week 30 in Finland and week 33 in Sweden. In Europe, the seasonal peak was most prominent in Finland and least prominent in Scotland and Austria. In New Zealand the seasonality was less consistent since the peak was more prolonged. Possible explanations for the seasonal peaks are discussed. Research into the causes of campylobacter seasonality should help considerably in elucidating the sources of human infection.

(Accepted January 9 2002)

c1 Author for correspondence: Department of Epidemiology, Statistics and Public Health, University of Wales College of Medicine, Heath Park, Cardiff CF14 4XN.