Wild bird-associated Campylobacter jejuni isolates are a consistent source of human disease, in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom.
Cody AJ., McCarthy ND., Bray JE., Wimalarathna HM., Colles FM., Jansen van Rensburg MJ., Dingle KE., Waldenström J., Maiden MC.
The contribution of wild birds as a source of human campylobacteriosis was investigated in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (UK) over a 10 year period. The probable origin of human Campylobacter jejuni genotypes, as described by multilocus sequence typing, was estimated by comparison with reference populations of isolates from farm animals and five wild bird families, using the STRUCTURE algorithm. Wild bird-attributed isolates accounted for between 476 (2.1%) and 543 (3.5%) cases annually. This proportion did not vary significantly by study year (P = 0.934) but varied seasonally, with wild bird-attributed genotypes comprising a greater proportion of isolates during warmer compared with cooler months (P = 0.003). The highest proportion of wild bird-attributed illness occurred in August (P < 0.001), with a significantly lower proportion in November (P = 0.018). Among genotypes attributed to specific groups of wild birds, seasonality was most apparent for Turdidae-attributed isolates, which were absent during cooler, winter months. This study is consistent with some wild bird species representing a persistent source of campylobacteriosis, and contributing a distinctive seasonal pattern to disease burden. If Oxfordshire is representative of the UK as a whole in this respect, these data suggest that the national burden of wild bird-attributed isolates could be in the order of 10,000 annually.