Spatiotemporal homogeneity of Campylobacter subtypes from cattle and sheep across northeastern and southwestern Scotland.
Rotariu O., Dallas JF., Ogden ID., MacRae M., Sheppard SK., Maiden MCJ., Gormley FJ., Forbes KJ., Strachan NJC.
Source attribution using molecular subtypes has implicated cattle and sheep as sources of human Campylobacter infection. Whether the Campylobacter subtypes associated with cattle and sheep vary spatiotemporally remains poorly known, especially at national levels. Here we describe spatiotemporal patterns of prevalence, bacterial enumeration, and subtype composition in Campylobacter isolates from cattle and sheep feces from northeastern (63 farms, 414 samples) and southwestern (71 farms, 449 samples) Scotland during 2005 to 2006. Isolates (201) were categorized as sequence type (ST), as clonal complex (CC), and as Campylobacter jejuni or Campylobacter coli using multilocus sequence typing (MLST). No significant difference in average prevalence (cattle, 22%; sheep, 25%) or average enumeration (cattle, 2.7 x 10(4) CFU/g; sheep, 2.0 x 10(5) CFU/g) was found between hosts or regions. The four most common STs (C. jejuni ST-19, ST-42, and ST-61 and C. coli ST-827) occurred in both hosts, whereas STs of the C. coli ST-828 clonal complex were more common in sheep. Neither host yielded evidence for regional differences in ST, CC, or MLST allele composition. Isolates from the two hosts combined, categorized as ST or CC, were more similar within than between farms but showed no further spatiotemporal trends up to 330 km and 50 weeks between farm samples. In contrast, both regions yielded evidence for significant differences in ST, CC, and allele composition between hosts, such that 65% of isolates could be attributed to a known host. These results suggest that cattle and sheep within the spatiotemporal scales analyzed are each capable of contributing homogeneous Campylobacter strains to human infections.