Whole-genome sequencing to detect numerous campylobacter jejuni outbreaks and match patient isolates to sources, Denmark, 2015-2017

Katrine G. Joensen, Kristoffer Kiil, Mette R. Gantzhorn, Birgitte Nauerby, Jørgen Engberg, Hanne M. Holt, Hans L. Nielsen, Andreas M. Petersen, Katrin G. Kuhn, Gudrun Sandø, Steen Ethelberg, Eva M. Nielsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

In industrialized countries, the leading cause of bacterial gastroenteritis is Campylobacter jejuni. However, outbreaks are rarely reported, which may reflect limitations of surveillance, for which molecular typing is not routinely performed. To determine the frequency of genetic clusters among patients and to find links to concurrent isolates from poultry meat, broiler chickens, cattle, pigs, and dogs, we performed whole-genome sequencing on 1,509 C. jejuni isolates from 774 patients and 735 food or animal sources in Denmark during 2015-2017. We found numerous clusters; 366/774 (47.3%) clinical isolates formed 104 clusters of >2 isolates. A total of 41 patient clusters representing 199/366 (54%) patients matched a potential source, primarily domestic chickens/broilers. This study revealed serial outbreaks and numerous matches to concurrent food and animal isolates and highlighted the potential of whole-genome sequencing for improving routine surveillance of C. jejuni by enhancing outbreak detection, source tracing, and potentially prevention of human infections.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEmerging Infectious Diseases (Print Edition)
Volume26
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)523-532
ISSN1080-6059
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

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