Weather correlates of Campylobacter prevalence in broilers at slaughter under tropical conditions in Sri Lanka

Kalupahana, R.S.; Mughini-Gras, L.; Kottawatta, S.A.; Somarathne, S.; Gamage, C.; Wagenaar, J.A.


Campylobacter is the primary agent of human bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide. In contrast to temperate zones, weather effects on Campylobacter prevalence in broilers under tropical conditions are under-researched. We examined the association between weather and Campylobacter prevalence in slaughtered broilers in Sri Lanka, a tropical country with weather variations led by monsoons. Each month (October 2009–July 2011), 20–30 broiler batches referring to two semi-automated slaughterhouses from five Sri Lankan provinces were tested for Campylobacter contamination and analysed in relation to temperature, humidity and rainfall. Overall prevalence was 63.8% (95% CI 59.6–67.9%, n = 542), peaking in September–November. Each 1 °C increase in monthly mean temperature up to 26 °C increased Campylobacter-positive batches by 16.4% (95% CI 0.4–35.1%). For each 10 mm increase in monthly total rainfall up to 300 mm, Campylobacter-positive batches increased significantly by 0.8% (0.1–1.5%) at 1-month lag. For each 1% increase in relative humidity up to 80% at 1- and 2-month lags, Campylobacter-positive batches increased of respectively 4.2% (1.9–6.7%) and 4.0% (1.5–6.5), and decreased by 3.6% (2.6–4.6%) and 4.0% (2.6–5.4%) for unit increases above 80%. These results suggest that even in tropical countries without marked seasons, there are weather effects possibly reflecting Campylobacter potential to colonise its preferred host and/or survive in the environment.