Campylobacter is a commensal bacterium that lives in the gastrointestinal tract of domestic and wild animals. European broiler flocks have a high prevalence of Campylobacter colonisation with no signs of illness or morbidity. Horizontal transfer is very effective, with the whole farm becoming infected within days after the first case. Campylobacter can be transmitted to humans and cause gastroenteritis, sometimes with devastating consequences especially among elderly people. Evidence so far indicates that designing nutritional strategies to decrease colonisation is complicated, as most of the products have been absorbed or changed as they pass through the gastrointestinal tract. The scope of the EU-funded CAMPYBRO (Control of Campylobacter infection in broiler flocks through two-steps strategy: nutrition and vaccination) project was to reduce infection via nutrition and vaccination. In this context, scientists tested the efficacy of a wide range of organic acids, plant extracts, prebiotics and probiotics as nutritional additives. The best results were obtained with a B. subtilis-based probiotic, and with monoglycerides of medium chain fatty acids. The most dramatic reduction in Campylobacter population was observed with a combination of the above with organic acids. However, field trials of this approach produced variable results, indicating that more knowledge is required of Campylobacter epidemiology and the pattern of natural infection. With respect to vaccine development, a list of 12 potential highly immunogenic vaccine antigens were tested against Campylobacter in an experimental vaccine model. Overall, the strategies developed during CAMPYBRO are expected to help EU poultry producers decrease Campylobacter colonisation in poultry. These efforts should be accompanied by effective vaccines and a broader knowledge of Campylobacter epidemiology. Collectively, the obtained knowledge will form the basis for the design of novel measures that ensure food safety and public health.
Campylobacter, poultry, CAMPYBRO, probiotic, monoglycerides, vaccines