Transmission And Development Of Antibiotic Resistance In Campylobacter And Their Effects In Poultry Industry In Pakistan

Pakistan is an agricultural country. Around 85% of Pakistani peoples are residing in rural areas and totally relay on agriculture system. Poultry sector is playing crucial role in economy of Pakistan.

By Wafa Yousaf, Usman Waheed, Syed Ehtisham Ul Haque, Muhammad Adnan Saeed, Muhammad Kashif

Role of Poultry Industry in Pakistan:

About two-third of people who live in the rural area are playing pivotal role in up-gradation of agricultural techniques in Pakistan that directly enhance the economy status of country. Their livelihood repeatedly contemplates around agriculture and kindred activities. Pakistan is the country with long records of traditional backyard farming and historical poultry rearing background. Backyard farming is actually the backbone of poultry industry in Pakistan due to which poultry sector came into being.

Fig 1: Poultry industry in Pakistan.

The nutritional benefits of Chicken meat and Eggs especially in women and children:

Chicken meat and eggs provide women Niacin, Folic acid, Vitamin K, Iodine, Iron and Zinc she need in her daily routine. Mostly females are iron deficient in both developed and under-developed countries. It is absolutely right that vegetables contain less amount of iron as compared to meat. Iron deficiency is of major concern and during pregnancy it may to lead to different abnormalities of child e.g. still birth, neural tube defect.

Fig 2: Eggs are best protein source and healthy for humans diet.

Commercial Poultry and Campylobacter:

Growing units in modern commercial poultry production commends the introduction of infection through contaminated fomites, infected water supply, insects, rodants, and free living birds resulting in intestinal colonization. Even newly hatched chicken may get transient diarrhea leading to infection. Vertical transmission in flocks is unclear yet. From the last few years Campylobacter is causing serious food and health related issues in poultry and humans that are of serious concern.

Colonization of Campylobacter in Poultry birds at Commercial industry:

High risk factors mainly that are considered mostly are open nature of small-scale commercially available broiler and native chicken production procedures with easy going undertaking, hygiene and low Campylobacter can colonized in all types of birds e.g. layers, broilers, ducks, turkeys and geese. That is why poultry meat is responsible for the foodborne transmission of Campylobacter globally. Broilers are considered as the largest source of poultry meat and protein source worldwide.

  1. Colonization of Campylobacter in broiler birds:

Campylobacter spp. does not elicit any kind of pathological lesions and clinical signs in broilers. Basically the bacteria colonize the in caeca, locating in intestinal mucous layer over the intestinal crypts of the villi. Secondary infection occurs in internal organs. Colonization of the Campylobacter occurs at the first day of inoculation and the level of colonization is high in ceca at the day 5. Broiler shed Campylobacter in their faeces. A slight decline of infection has been observed in birds after 4 weeks.

  1. Colonization of Campylobacter in Flocks:

Campylobacter is observed very little at commercial farms. It is detected rarely in the birds that are 2-3 weeks age old. The colonizing probability increases near the slaughtering age between 5-8 weeks. The potential of Campylobacter colonization varies according to climatic conditions. The prevalence of Campylobacter colonization is less in winter as compared to winter. These variations are also associated with humidity, vectors e.g. flies, rodents, farm outdoor temperature and density of farm biosecurity.


Characteristics of Microorganism:

Campylobacter microorganisms are small (0.2–0.9 𝜇m wide and 0.2–5.0 𝜇m long), spirally curved, and motile Gram negative bacteria that are commonly present in the intestinal tract of poultry birds. Twenty-one Campylobacter species have been identified and characterized so far and among them, the most important pathogenic species are Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli. Both these Campylobacter species are different from other pathogens associated with food-borne disease. They are able to grow in an atmosphere containing approximately 10% CO2 and 5% O2, at a narrow temperature range between 30̊ C and 46̊ C, and thus classified as thermophilic  Campylobacters.

Fig 4: Microscopic image of Campylobacter.


Clinical Signs and Symptoms:

 In humans, Campylobacter bacteria cause illness that is known as  campylobacteriosis, which is the most common human gastroenteric infection in developed and under developed countries. Campylobacter is responsible for diarrhoea in an estimated 400–500 million people globally each year. The main sources of these microorganisms are raw or uncooked meat, especially poultry meat.



In the management of human campylobacteriosis, fluid therapy is the most important. Antimicrobial treatment is needed only in patients with more severe disease and in those who are immunologically compromised. The most common antimicrobial agents used in the treatment of Campylobacter infections are macrolides, such as erythromycin, and fluoroquinolones, such as ciprofloxacin and tetracycline

Development and Transmission of Antibiotic Resistance:

One of the main factors influencing antimicrobial resistance, especially to fluoroquinolones and macrolides, is the use of these antimicrobial agents in animal production. In many countries, where fluoroquinolone use in animal production is low, the incidence of fluoroquinolone-resistant strains has remained moderate or low. In case of macrolides, the use of these antimicrobials in animal production as therapeutic or growth-promoting agents has been considered to be one important factor in the selection of erythromycin-resistant Campylobacter strains. However, acquisition of erythromycin resistance in Campylobacter is a stepwise process and requires prolonged exposure in contrast to the rapidly envolving fluoroquinolone resistance.

Fig 5: Development of Antibiotic Resistance.

Control and Managment:

Campylobacter infections typically cause self-limiting gastroenteritis and the most important treatment is to avoid dehydration by fluid therapy. Antimicrobial treatment is needed only in the most severe and persisting infections or infections of young children, pregnant women as well as old and immune-compromised patients. Globally, the incidences of resistance to several important antibiotics useful in the treatment of campylobacteriosis are increasing and multiple resistance patterns to several classes of antibiotics are emerging. Since several antimicrobials are no longer effective in the clinical treatment of campylobacteriosis, new generation of antibiotics and novel treatment should be evaluated. Modern molecular approaches, such as genomics and proteomics, are expected to provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of antimicrobial resistance in Campylobacter.

Authors : Wafa Yousaf, Usman Waheed, Syed Ehtisham Ul Haque, Muhammad Adnan Saeed, Muhammad Kashif University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore (Jhang Campus) 12km, Chiniot Road, Jhang

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