Epidemiology and Infection

Most Campylobacter subtypes from sporadic infections can be found in retail poultry products and food animals

E. M. NIELSEN a1a2c1, V. FUSSING a2, J. ENGBERG a2a3, N. L. NIELSEN a4 and J. NEIMANN a1
a1 Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research, Copenhagen, Denmark
a2 Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark
a3 Herlev University Hospital, Herlev, Denmark
a4 Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, Søborg, Denmark

Article author query
nielsen em   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
fussing v   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
engberg j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
nielsen nl   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
neimann j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


The subtypes of Campylobacter isolates from human infections in two Danish counties were compared to isolates from retail food samples and faecal samples from chickens, pigs and cattle. During a 1-year period, 1285 Campylobacter isolates from these sources were typed by two methods: ‘Penner’ heat-stable serotyping and automated ribotyping (RiboPrinting). C. jejuni was the dominating species, but C. coli was more prevalent among food and chicken isolates (16%) compared to human isolates (4%). In total, 356 different combined sero-ribotypes (subtypes) were found. A large subtype overlap was seen between human isolates and isolates from food (66%), chickens (59%) and cattle (83%). This was verified by PFGE typing of 212 isolates representing selected subtypes. All frequent (n>3) subtypes found in food were also present in humans. Sixty-one per cent of the isolates from domestically acquired infections had subtypes that were also found in food as opposed to 31% of travel-associated infections. The results showed differences in the various Campylobacter populations, e.g. the Danish population as reflected in the domestically acquired infections and the Danish-produced food was more uniform than the isolates originating from outside the country. The study shows that most C. jejuni subtypes found in poultry food samples, broiler chickens, and cattle were represented in the domestically acquired cases, indicating that C. jejuni from these reservoirs are likely sources of human infections in Denmark.

(Accepted August 30 2005)
(Published Online November 29 2005)

c1 Unit of Gastrointestinal Infections, Statens Serum Institut, Artillerivej 5, 2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark. (Email: emn@ssi.dk)