Campylobacter species are frequently identified as a cause of human gastroenteritis, often from eating or mishandling contaminated poultry products. Quantitative knowledge of transmission of Campylobacter in broiler flocks is necessary, as this may help to determine the moment of introduction of Campylobacter in broiler flocks more precisely. The aim of this study was to determine the transmission rate parameter in broiler flocks. Four experiments were performed, each with four Campylobacter-inoculated chicks housed with 396 contact chicks per group. Colonization was monitored by regularly testing fecal samples for Campylobacter. A mathematical model was used to quantify the transmission rate, which was determined to be 1.04 new cases per colonized chick per day. This would imply that, for example, in a flock of 20,000 broilers, the prevalence of Campylobacter would increase from 5% to 95% within 6 days after Campylobacter introduction. The model and the estimated transmission rate parameter can be used to develop a suitable sampling scheme to determine transmission in commercial broiler flocks, to estimate whether control measures can reduce the transmission rate, or to estimate when Campylobacter was introduced into a colonized broiler flock on the basis of the time course of transmission in the flock.
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