Epidemiology and Infection

Gastroenteritis

Investigation of prevalence and risk factors for Campylobacter in broiler flocks at slaughter: results from a UK survey

J. R. LAWESa1 c1, A. VIDALa2, F. A. CLIFTON-HADLEYa2, R. SAYERSa1, J. RODGERSa2, L. SNOWa1, S. J. EVANSa1 and L. F. POWELLa1

a1 Centre for Epidemiology and Risk Analysis, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Surrey, UK

a2 Department of Bacteriology, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Surrey, UK

SUMMARY

During 2007–2009 a UK-wide, 3-year stratified randomized survey of UK chicken broiler flocks was conducted to estimate the prevalence of Campylobacter-infected batches of birds at slaughter. Thirty-seven abattoirs, processing 88·3% of the total UK slaughter throughput, were recruited at the beginning of the survey. Of the 1174 slaughter batches sampled, 79·2% were found to be colonized with Campylobacter, the majority of isolates being C. jejuni. Previous partial depopulation of the flock [odds ratio (OR) 5·21], slaughter in the summer months (categorized as June, July and August; OR 14·27) or autumn months (categorized as September, October and November; OR 1·70) increasing bird age (40–41 days, OR 3·18; 42–45 days, OR 3·56; ≥46 days, OR 13·43) and higher recent mortality level in the flock (1·00–1·49% mortality, OR 1·57; ≥1·49% mortality, OR 2·74) were all identified as significant risk factors for Campylobacter colonization of the birds at slaughter. Time in transit to the slaughterhouse of more than 2·5 h was identified as a protective factor (OR 0·52).

(Received October 14 2011)

(Revised March 23 2012)

(Accepted April 23 2012)

(Online publication May 28 2012)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: Miss J. R. Lawes, CERA, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Woodham Lane, Surrey KT15 3NB, UK. (Email: joanna.lawes@ahvla.gsi.gov.uk)

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