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Campylobacter in primary animal production and control strategies to reduce the burden of human campylobacteriosis.

Campylobacteriosis is one of the most important bacterial food-borne illnesses in humans. One significant source of infection is the handling and consumption of poultry meat, although other sources also contribute considerably. Controlling Campylobacter in broilers reduces the human burden of illness. Broilers can easily become colonised with Campylobacter and preventive measures in primary production have a limited and unpredictable effect. Vaccination, competitive exclusion, bacteriophage therapy and the use of bacteriocins are not yet commercially available. However, measures in the slaughterhouse can reduce contamination in the final product. At present, the most promising control strategy is to keep colonised and non-colonised flocks separate during slaughter ('scheduled processing'). The virtually Campylobacter-free meat can supply the fresh poultry meat market, while the meat from infected flocks can be treated to reduce the Campylobacter concentration. Meat from infected flocks can be treated by freezing but chemical decontamination appears to be more cost effective. A variant of this scenario is to treat only highly contaminated meat. The authors conclude that, until new techniques become commercially available, scheduled processing is the most cost-effective approach. Finally, the authors describe trends in antimicrobial resistance in Campylobacter.

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