Population structure and attribution of human clinical Campylobacter jejuni isolates from central Europe to livestock and environmental sources.
Campylobacter jejuni is among the most prevalent causes of human bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide. Domesticated animals and, especially, chicken meat are considered to be the main sources of infections. However, the contribution of surface waters and wildlife in C. jejuni transmission to humans is not well understood. We have evaluated the source attribution potential of a six-gene multiplex PCR (mPCR) method coupled with STRUCTURE analysis on a set of 410 C. jejuni strains isolated from environment, livestock, food and humans in central Europe. Multiplex PCR fingerprints were analysed using Subclade prediction algorithm to classify them into six distinct mPCR clades. A subset of C. jejuni isolates (70%) was characterized by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) demonstrating 74% congruence between mPCR and MLST. The correspondence analysis of mPCR clades and sources of isolation indicated three distinct groups in the studied C. jejuni population-the first one associated with isolates from poultry, the second one with isolates from cattle, and the third one with isolates from the environment. The STRUCTURE analysis attributed 7.2% and 21.7% of human isolates to environmental sources based on MLST and mPCR fingerprints, respectively.
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