Research project Reduction of Campylobacter in broiler flocks: identification of risk factors, evaluation of increased biosecurity measures and the protective effect of the microbiota of Campylobacter free flocks

In progress Acronym: CAMPREVENT
flock of broiler chickens

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Main research question

The overall objective of this project is to draft an (enhanced) biosecurity protocol, efficient but also easily implemented to reduce the risk that broiler flocks become colonized with Campylobacter. Besides this, we also study the difference between the microbiota of broilers which remain Campylobacter free until slaughter and the microbiota of flocks which become or are colonized with Campylobacter.

Research approach

During the study, 60 broiler flocks (from 15 farms) are sampled and cecal droppings from the broilers as well as possible risk factors are sampled. Isolated campylobacters are characterized to identify contamination routes and sources on Flemish broiler farms, including mixed farms (where also cows or pigs are raised). This should lead to an (enhanced) biosecurity protocol that reduces the risk of Campylobacter introduction on broiler farms. This protocol will be implemented and evaluated on the same farms.

Cecal droppings that are collected in the first research part from both Campylobacter positive flocks and Campylobacter-free flocks are analyzed in order to determine the difference in the bacterial composition.

Relevance/Valorization

In the industrialized world, Campylobacter is the most important bacterial cause of human gastro-enteritis, with 66 reported cases per 100,000 EU habitants. For each reported case, it is estimated to be 46 real cases resulting in 9.2 million Campylobacter cases and a economic cost of 2.4 billion euros in the EU. It is estimated that 50%-80% of all Campylobacter strains isolated from human cases are originating from the poultry reservoir. A 10-fold reduction in Campylobacter numbers in the ceca would result in a 55% reduction of the number of human Campylobacter cases.