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Molecular Epidemiology of Campylobacter jejuni Isolates from Wild-Bird Fecal Material in Children's Playgrounds

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 02:20 authored by French, NP, Midwinter, A, Barbara HollandBarbara Holland, Collins-Emerson, J, Pattison, R, Colles, F, Carter, P
In many countries relatively high notification rates of campylobacteriosis are observed in children under 5 years of age. Few studies have considered the role that environmental exposure plays in the epidemiology of these cases. Wild birds inhabit parks and playgrounds and are recognized carriers of Campylobacter, and young children are at greater risk of ingesting infective material due to their frequent hand-mouth contact. We investigated wild-bird fecal contamination in playgrounds in parks in a New Zealand city. A total of 192 samples of fresh and dried fecal material were cultured to determine the presence of Campylobacter spp. Campylobacter jejuni isolates were also characterized by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST), and the profiles obtained were compared with those of human isolates. C. jejuni was isolated from 12.5% of the samples. MLST identified members of clonal complexes ST-45, ST-682, and ST-177; all of these complexes have been recovered from wild birds in Europe. PFGE of ST-45 isolates resulted in profiles indistinguishable from those of isolated obtained from human cases in New Zealand. Members of the ST-177 and ST-682 complexes have been found in starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in the United Kingdom, and these birds were common in playgrounds investigated in New Zealand in this study. We suggest that feces from wild birds in playgrounds could contribute to the occurrence of campylobacteriosis in preschool children. Further, the C. jejuni isolates obtained in this study belonged to clonal complexes associated with wild-bird populations in the northern hemisphere and could have been introduced into New Zealand in imported wild garden birds in the 19th century.


Publication title

Applied and Environmental Microbiology








School of Natural Sciences


American Society for Microbiology

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1752 N St NW, Washington, USA, DC, 20036-2904

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Copyright © 2009, American Society for Microbiology

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Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified

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