Zoonoses

The work in this theme is focused on a range of zoonotic pathogens, including the major foodborne pathogens Campylobacter and Salmonella spp. In addition antimicrobial resistance in both pathogenic and commensal bacteria in a range of animals (food and companion) also forms part of this theme.

The UK needs to improve the security of its food supply chain and meet the challenge of increasing animal production, becoming more cost-effective, but without impacting on public health. It is essential that increased animal production is done in a manner which maintains/improves food safety and efficiency by lowering the burden of endemic disease.

A major component of the theme is to determine how animal production systems affect host-pathogen interactions by influencing pathogen virulence and host susceptibility.

Recent highlights include:

  • The discovery of a novel clone of C. jejuni which is almost exclusively limited to a wildlife host.
  • The demonstration that the colonisation of broiler chickens with Campylobacter is strongly linked to the health and welfare of the animals
  • A project to determine the national prevalence and risk factors for antimicrobial resistance in E. coli and Staphylococci, and antimicrobial prescribing patterns in dogs and horses.

Future directions include:

  • The behaviour of Campylobacter in the chicken gut and how the in vivo behaviour of the bacteria is affected by poor health and welfare and endemic diseases.
  • Host-pathogen and pathogen-environmental interactions, including how animal production systems affect such interactions and influence pathogen virulence and host susceptibility.
  • How animal management systems affect the development and maintenance of antimicrobial resistance within food production environments.