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Genetic characterization and epidemiological implications of Campylobacter isolates from wild birds in South Korea

Wei, Bai, Kang, Min, Jang, Hyung‐Kwan
Transboundary and emerging diseases 2019 v.66 no.1 pp. 56-65
Campylobacter coli, Campylobacter jejuni, animal pathogens, ducks, emerging diseases, feces, genes, hosts, humans, multilocus sequence typing, polymerase chain reaction, virulence, wild birds, South Korea
In this study, we genotyped Campylobacter isolates from wild birds by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and analysed their virulence genes by PCR with the aim to gain a deeper understanding of the epidemiology of Campylobacter infection. Amongst 60 Campylobacter isolates from 12 wild bird species, we identified 32 sequence types (STs; 29 STs from Campylobacter jejuni and 3 STs from Campylobacter coli). Clonal complex 45 (CC‐45), was the most common CC (n = 17 isolates), followed by CC‐692 (n = 10). ST‐137 was the most prevalent (n = 9), originating from 4 avian species. Eleven C. jejuni STs (37.9%) and 2 C. coli STs (66.7%) overlapped with those of human clinical origin. Thirteen C. jejuni STs and all 3 C. coli STs from wild birds were associated with STs of multiple sources (poultry, livestock and/or the environment). There was a strong association between wild bird isolates and domestic duck isolates with 7 STs shared between these host species. There was a high prevalence of all the 11 virulence genes tested in all wild bird isolates, with no association of any ST to a particular virulence profile. All Campylobacter spp. isolates from wild birds carried the cadF gene. The cytotoxin‐encoding genes cdtB and cdtC were present in all 7 C. coli isolates, and in 52 (98.1%) and 50 (94.3%) C. jejuni isolates, respectively. Six C. jejuni isolates carried the wlaN gene, and virB11 was found in 8 isolates. The results of this study show that ST overlap between human and wild bird isolates frequently occurs, and the high prevalence of virulence genes in wild bird isolates indicates that wild birds shed Campylobacter in their faeces that are potentially pathogenic to humans.