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Zoonoses Public Health. 2011 Aug;58(5):365-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1863-2378.2010.01373.x. Epub 2010 Oct 7.

Genetic diversity among Campylobacter jejuni isolates from healthy livestock and their links to human isolates in Spain.

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Department of Animal Health, NEIKER - Instituto Vasco de Investigación y Desarrollo Agrario, Bizkaia, Spain.


This study was aimed at determining the genetic diversity of Campylobacter jejuni from healthy ruminants and poultry, and study by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) their links to human isolates in Spain. MLST analysis of 160 animal isolates generated 45 sequence types (STs, nine of them new to this study), that clustered into 18 clonal complexes (CC) and nine singletons. The 71 isolates from humans generated 28 STs (13 CC plus four singletons). Only 11 STs and nine CCs were shared by humans and animals (particularly from dairy cattle and sheep), mainly corresponding to sporadic cases rather than outbreaks, probably as an adaptation of the general human population to the types commonly circulating in livestock. PCR analysis of the distribution of four virulence-associated genes detected the cdtABC gene cluster in all 160 isolates but with a 700-bp deletion in four of them, and amplified the virB11, cgtB and wlaN genes in 4.7%, 21.3% and 21.9% respectively. A subset of 87 C. jejuni animal isolates analysed using flaA PCR-RFLP, MLST and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis generated 31, 38 and 55 types respectively. The combined typing approach used provided reliable inter-strain relationships, confirming the co-existence of several strains in some farms, but also identifying identical genotypes sampled over a wide temporal span in different environments and hosts. Typing results confirmed a high genetic diversity of C. jejuni in our region and suggested that ruminants are also important sources for human infection. MLST data provided will help to obtain a more comprehensive image of the population structure of C. jejuni and establish reliable source attribution schemes.

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