A mathematical modelling approach to uncover factors influencing the spread of Campylobacter in a flock of chickens
Rawson T., Paton R., Colles F., Maiden MCJ., Dawkins MS., Bonsall M.
ABSTRACT Despite continued efforts into improving biosecurity protocol, Campylobacter continues to be detected in the majority of commercial chicken flocks across Europe. Using an extensive data set of Campylobacter prevalence within a chicken breeder flock for over a year, multiple Bayesian models are presented to explore the dynamics of the spread of Campylobacter in response to seasonal variation, species-specificity, bird health and total infection prevalence. It was found that birds within the flock varied greatly in their response to bacterial challenge, and that this phenomena had a large impact in the overall prevalence of different species of Campylobacter. Campylobacter jejuni appeared more frequently in the summer, while Campylobacter coli persisted for a longer duration, amplified by the most susceptible birds in the flock. Our study suggests that strains of Campylobacter that appear most frequently likely possess no demographic advantage, but are instead amplified due to the health of the birds that ingest it.