The impacts of biosecurity measures on Campylobacter contamination in broiler houses and slaughterhouses in the Netherlands : A simulation modelling approach

Horvat, Andrijana; Luning, Pieternel A.; DiGennaro, Catherine; Rommens, Edien; Daalen, Els van; Koene, Miriam; Jalali, Mohammad S.


Intestinal campylobacteriosis, caused by Campylobacter ingestion, is the most reported zoonosis in the EU; it is societally costly and can lead to more severe sequelae. To reduce Campylobacter infections, biosecurity measures at both farms and slaughterhouses are warranted. However, the potential improvements achieved by these interventions have not been quantified. We used a systems science approach to develop a simulation model, synthesizing information from interviews with stakeholders in the Dutch broiler production industry and the current literature. The model includes both farms and slaughterhouses in a “system of systems,” helping to clarify the complexity of interrelated components of these systems and analyse the impact of various interventions. Insects, transportation crates, farm personnel, and catchers were identified as potential Campylobacter sources and modelled as elements of feedback loops. Insect control, farm hygiene, visitor control, thinning, and transportation control interventions were analysed. The model was shown to accurately describe the seasonality of Campylobacter, which supports its validity. Model simulation revealed that insect control interventions had the strongest impacts, followed by combined farm hygiene and visitor control, and combined thinning and transportation control. Insect control interventions alone reduced the peak percentage of contaminated chickens from 51% to 26% and the peak percentage of highly contaminated (>1000 CFU/g) neck samples of chicken carcasses from 13% to 8%. Implementing all interventions concurrently reduced the peak percentages of contaminated chickens to 5% and highly contaminated chicken neck samples to 2%. These results suggest that multiple biosecurity measures must be implemented to reduce Campylobacter contamination.