Photo: National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark

Towards vaccination against campylobacter in poultry

Monday 16 Dec 13


Håkan Vigre
Associate professor
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 70 69
Poultry is a significant source of infection with campylobacter in humans. In connection with a Ph.D. project at the National Food Industry, Technical University of Denmark, tools which may contribute to a future effective vaccination strategy in poultry production were developed.

Today, campylobacter is the food bacteria which causes most people in Denmark and in many other countries to become ill. Poultry is a significant source of infectious diseases caused by this bacteria. Thus, strategies to reduce the number of such diseases are highly prioritised in several countries.

In her Ph.D. project, Ana Belén García Clavero developed a PC tool for decision support for selecting a vaccination strategy against campylobacter in poultry production. The tool has been developed on the basis of quantitative diagnostic methods and computer-based models. In future, it may contribute to the development of a cost-effective vaccination strategy which can reduce the number of campylobacters in infected chicken.

Focus on vaccine

Campylobacters are found in the large intestine in animals, primarily poultry, but also in bovine animals and swine, and can also be found in the environment. These bacteria do not make animals sick, but during slaughter they may be spread from intestinal contents to the meat.

Traditionally, control of campylobacter in poultry production has focused on avoiding chicken flocks to get infected from the environment. However, in the above-mentioned Ph.D. thesis, focus has been put on the strategic use of vaccines against campylobacter in the large intestine of chicken already infected.

Calculates probability of campylobacter

The particular PC tool has been developed in the software HUGIN, where knowledge about effects and costs of different control methods is integrated. The tool may be used at both livestock and flock level, and integrates the influence of season in relation to the occurrence of campylobacter with the use of e.g. insect nets, other vaccinations and historical knowledge of earlier infections with campylobacter in livestock.

On this background, the tool calculates the probability of different loads of campylobacter in the poultry flock at slaughter time by using various control methods. Subsequently, the model compares the costs of different control methods with the expected additional returns for chickens ready for slaughter with a lower presence of campylobacter.

Furthermore, the thesis provides an extensive review of control strategies for campylobacter in the entire food chain.

Read more

See Ana Belén García Clavero’s Ph.D. thesis: Campylobacter vaccination of poultry: Clinical trials, quantitative microbiological methods and decision support tools for the control of campylobacter in poultry (pdf).

The Ph.D. thesis is part of a bigger project, which focuses on developing a vaccine for poultry against campylobacter, the CamVac project, funded by the Danish Council for Strategic Research. Read more about the CamVac-project