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Prevalence of thermophilic campylobacter infections in humans, chickens and crows in Morogoro, Tanzania.

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Department of Veterinary Medicine and Public Health, Sokoine University of Agriculture, PO Box 3021, Morogoro, Tanzania.


Prevalence of thermophilic Campylobacter infections in humans, chickens and crows was determined in a cross-sectional study that was carried out in urban and rural areas of Morogoro region, Tanzania during the period of January 2003 to December 2004. A total of 632 human stool samples, 536 cloacal swabs from local and broiler chickens and 22 intestinal contents from crows were screened for presence of thermophilic campylobacters using Skirrow's protocol. Representative Campylobacter jejuni isolates from human and chicken samples were also analysed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) as a definitive identification method. The overall prevalence of thermophilic campylobacters was 9.3% (95% CI: 7.2-11.9), 69.8% (95% CI: 65.7-73.6) and 72.7% (95% CI: 49.8-89.3) in humans, chickens and crows respectively. In humans, 59 thermophilic campylobacters were isolated of which 96.6% were C. jejuni and 3.4%Campylobacter coli. There was a significantly (P<0.001) higher prevalence in young individuals (16%) than in adults (7%). Of 341 isolates from chickens, 91.2% were C. jejuni and 8.8% were C. coli. A significantly (P<0.05) higher infection rate was observed in rural local chicken (76%) than in broilers (60%). In crows, of 16 isolates, 93.8% were C. jejuni and 6.2% were C. coli. Definitive identification of C. jejuni by PCR revealed positive results in 74.1% of 243 analysed isolates. Findings in this study indicate high prevalence of thermophilic campylobacters in humans, chickens and crows in Morogoro, and a higher infection rate of C. jejuni than that of C. coli in different animal species. Age of humans and location of chickens were identified as risk factors for thermophilic Campylobacter infections. Positive isolates to biochemical tests that indicated negative results on PCR indicates the additional value of PCR for definitive diagnosis of C. jejuni.

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