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Prev Vet Med. 2000 Aug 10;46(3):209-23.

A longitudinal study of campylobacter infection of broiler flocks in Great Britain.

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Epidemiology Department, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Weybridge, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB, UK.


One hundred flocks associated with five integrated poultry companies were monitored for one production cycle to investigate risk factors for campylobacter infection of poultry broiler flocks. Bacteriological samples were collected from one house of birds on each site at weekly intervals from 3 to 4 weeks of age until the birds were infected with campylobacter or the flock was depopulated (whichever was sooner). Environmental samples were obtained from 20 houses after cleansing and disinfection of the site before chick arrival. Conventional methods were used for the isolation of campylobacter. Questionnaires were used to collect information on potential risk factors for campylobacter infection. Discrete-time survival analysis was used to assess the influence of various exposures on the age at which the flock was infected with campylobacter. More than 40% of flocks were infected with campylobacter by the time the chicks were 4 weeks old and >90% by 7 weeks. Infection spread rapidly to most birds in a flock. Infection was not predictable by campylobacter status of the last flock reared on the site. (However, because most flocks were infected, the power to detect such an association was poor.) There was no evidence of environmental survival of campylobacters in broiler houses after adequate cleansing and disinfection. The most important predictors of protection from campylobacter were related to effective hygiene barriers (such as housing birds in buildings in a good state of repair, appropriate usage of disinfectant boot dips and a high standard of cleansing and disinfection of the drinking-water equipment). There was no evidence that rodents were a source of infection (but most sites operated effective vermin-control programmes).

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