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Prev Vet Med. 2008 May 15;84(3-4):261-76. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2007.12.010. Epub 2008 Feb 4.

Campylobacter spp. in conventional broiler flocks in Northern Ireland: epidemiology and risk factors.

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Veterinary Sciences Division, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Stoney Road, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3SD, UK.


Risk factors for Campylobacter infection in conventional broiler flocks in the time period up to the first removal of birds to slaughter were investigated over a maximum of five consecutive production cycles in a cohort of 88 broiler farms in Northern Ireland. Samples for Campylobacter culture, which consisted of 14 cloacal swabs per flock, were collected from one house on each farm prior to the first depopulation of birds. In total 388 flocks were sampled, of which 163 tested positive for Campylobacter spp. (42.0%; 95% CI 35.1-48.9%). Data on farm and flock variables were obtained from questionnaires and random-effects logistic regression modelling used to investigate the association between these and the Campylobacter status of flocks. Six variables, all of which were significant at p<0.05, were included in the final multivariable model. These included a combined variable on the presence of rodents on farms, which showed an increased odds of infection in flocks where the farmer reported having observed rodents during the production cycle (OR=2.1) and/or where rodent droppings were observed at the sampling visit (OR=2.9). Other variables that were significantly associated with an increased odds of infection included the age of the birds at sampling (odds ratio for its linear effect=1.16 for each day of increase in age), season (summer versus other seasons OR=2.0), farms with three or more broiler houses (OR=2.9 compared to those with one house), the frequency of footbath disinfectant changes (OR=2.5 for once weekly and OR=4.0 for less than once weekly compared to twice weekly changes) and a categorical variable on the standard of tidiness and cleanliness of the broiler house ante-room (OR=2.0 and OR=4.9 for flocks from houses with poorer standards). There was no significant evidence of direct carry-over of infection from one production cycle to the next, neither was there evidence of other farm species acting as a source of infection.

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