Campylobacter is the most common bacterial cause of diarrhoeal disease in the developed world. There were approximately 700,000 cases in the UK in 2010 with around 200 deaths.
The current annual UK cost of acute Campylobacter infection is around £600 million, exceeding that from Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli O157 combined.
The transmission pathways for ~50% of human cases are unknown. Around 40% of cases occur during the ‘spring peak’. Yet the relative roles of environmental and food pathways, and their interaction, in this seasonal emergence are poorly understood, if at all.
To reach a breakthrough we face two important challenges.
- to develop innovative methods that incorporate environmental and social systems to understand how they interact with Campylobacter.
- to ensure these new methods capture the behaviours of both humans and Campylobacter over different temporal and spatial scales.
- Identify the key reservoirs, environmental and social drivers of Campylobacter that affect human disease;
- Analyse seasonal variations in pathogen load and their impacts on exposure and disease;
- Understand the relative roles of the transmission pathways and thus points of control;
- Generate future projections of disease risk and its control.
- Identify how campylobacters persist in the natural environment and how environmental exposure influences their virulence; analyse the interaction between Campylobacter populations and their environment; estimate the direct and indirect contribution of environment and human behaviour on the risk of human Campylobacter infection (Aim 1).
- Analyse spatial and temporal variation in Campylobacter load in contrasting rural environments to quantify seasonal variation in human exposure to Campylobacter (Aim 2).
- Analyse the relative importance of different transmission pathways (recreation, water, food, etc.) to humans; analyse risk perceptions of rural environment users; analyse effectiveness, acceptability, costs and benefits of interventions to reduce burden by estimating the current costs of Campylobacter disease; analyse interventions and assess their acceptability (Aim 3).
- Predict changes in disease burden due to environmental and/or social change; predict how future changes in climate, land use, countryside visits, food production and consumption will affect disease patterns and costs (Aim 4).