Entitled 'Improved physiological, immunological and moleculartools for the recovery and identification of emerging Campylobacteraceae in the food and water chain', the programme aims to minimise the impact of this virulent strain of bacteria within the EU.
Current epidemiological statistics show that Campylobacter jejuni is the major cause of human gastroenteritis with between 400 -500 million cases of diarrhoea per year attributed to this organism. In addition to gastroenteritis more serious conditions are associated with C. jejuni - it can also cause Guillain-Barre syndrome (which can result in paralysis and death) as well as reactive arthritis.
Transmission of the pathogen can occur by ingestion of faecally-contaminatedfood or water or by direct contact with contaminated surfaces. Contaminateddrinking and surface water, poultry, pig, sheep and cattle meat,unpasteurised milk and salads have all been implicated in Campylobacterjejuni outbreaks.
The CAMPYCHECK project will focus on emerging Campylobacteraceae looking atthe development of routine isolation and detection methods which will alloweffective screening of samples in outbreak situations. Epidemiological dataon the micro-organisms will be generated that will be essential to theinstigation of effective control measures for food and water.
A risk assessment model for emerging Campylobacteraceae in food and waterwill be generated which will be a major benefit to both the food and waterindustries and public health bodies alike.
The CAMPYCHECK research project's aim is to address the limitations of current isolation and identification methods. It also aims to establish the prevalence of these micro-organisms in patient and animal faeces and the food and water chain in Europe, USA and South Africa.
The Oxoid CAMPYCHECK project team is led by Peter Stephens, R & D Manager."As well as proving invaluable in epidemiological studies thenew methods will also allow us to look at the survival of these pathogens inthe food chain and examine issues that affect pathogenicity and virulence.We also expect that practical strategies for control of the pathogen in thefood and the water industry will be developed during the course of theproject," said Stephens.
CAMPYCHECK is co-ordinated by the University of Southampton, UK andbrings together European, South African and American veterinary, food and biomedical specialists working in academia, research institutions and the food industry.