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The prevalence of thermotolerant <i>Campylobacter</i> species in food animals in Jimma Zone, Southwest Ethiopia

Tesfaye Kassa
Solomon Gebre-selassie
Daniel Asrat


Background: Thermotolerant Campylobacter spp. is known to occur in the intestinal systems of a wide variety of domestic and wild animals. Although Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli cause acute diarrhoeal diseases in humans worldwide, they mostly manifest themselves in an apparently healthy carrier state in other mammalian species. However, little is known about the presence of campylobacter bacteria in various food animals as possible sources of infection to humans in Ethiopia.

Objective: The aim of this study is to determine the prevalence of thermotolerant Campylobacter spp. in various food animals in Jimma zone, southwest Ethiopia.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in urban and rural farm animal settings in Jimma, southwest Ethiopia in the period between January 2004 to April 2004. Fecal specimens were collected from 485 various food animals (cattle, n=205; poultry, n=191; pigs, n=18; sheep n=71) and cultured using standard methods.

Results: Campylobacter spp. were isolated from 192 (39.6%) out of 485 fecal specimens taken from various urban and rural farm animals. The highest isolation rate was recorded among chickens (68.1%), followed by pigs (50.0%), sheep (38.0%) and cattle (12.7%). Among the 192 thermophilic campylobacters isolated, 135 (70.3%) were identified to be C. jejuni, 51 (26.6%) were C. coli and 6 (3.1%) were C. lari. C. jejuni was the most prevalent species in chickens (80.8%), followed by sheep (59.3%) and cattle (53.8%). All isolates found in pigs were identified to be C. coli (100%).

Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that thermophilic campylobacters are very frequent among various food animals in Ethiopia, suggesting possible risks of infection to people through the consumption of contaminated animal products or through contact with infected animals.

Ethiopian Journal of Health Development Vol. 19(3) 2005: 225-229

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eISSN: 1021-6790