Research – Quantitative Risk Assessment of Human Campylobacteriosis Associated With Thermophilic Campylobacter Species in Chickens



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A quantitative risk assessment comprising the elements hazard identification, hazard characterization, exposure assessment, and risk characterization has been prepared to assess the effect of different mitigation strategies on the number of human cases in Denmark associated with thermophilic Campylobacter spp. in chickens. To estimate the human exposure to Campylobacter from a chicken meal and the number of human cases associated with this exposure, a mathematical risk model was developed. The model details the spread and transfer of Campylobacter in chickens from slaughter to consumption and the relationship between ingested dose and the probability of developing campylobacteriosis. Human exposure was estimated in two successive mathematical modules. Module 1 addresses changes in prevalence and numbers of Campylobacter on chicken carcasses throughout the processing steps of a slaughterhouse. Module 2 covers the transfer of Campylobacter during food handling in private kitchens. The age and sex of consumers were included in this module to introduce variable hygiene levels during food preparation and variable sizes and compositions of meals. Finally, the outcome of the exposure assessment modules was integrated with a Beta-Poisson dose-response model to provide a risk estimate. Simulations designed to predict the effect of different mitigation strategies showed that the incidence of campylobacteriosis associated with consumption of chicken meals could be reduced 30 times by introducing a 2 log reduction of the number of Campylobacter on the chicken carcasses. To obtain a similar reduction of the incidence, the flock prevalence should be reduced approximately 30 times or the kitchen hygiene improved approximately 30 times. Cross-contamination from positive to negative flocks during slaughter had almost no effect on the human Campylobacter incidence, which indicates that implementation of logistic slaughter will only have a minor influence on the risk. Finally, the simulations showed that people in the age of 18-29 years had the highest risk of developing campylobacteriosis.

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