As a major foodborne pathogen, Campylobacter is frequently isolated from food sources of animal origin. In contrast, human Campylobacter illness is relatively rare, but has a considerable health burden due to acute enteric illness as well as severe sequelae. To study silent transmission, serum antibodies can be used as biomarkers to estimate seroconversion rates, as a proxy for infection pressure. This novel approach to serology shows that infections are much more common than disease, possibly because most infections remain asymptomatic. This study used antibody titres measured in serum samples collected from healthy subjects selected randomly in the general population from several countries in the European Union (EU). Estimates of seroconversion rates to Campylobacter were calculated for seven countries: Romania, Poland, Italy, France, Finland, Denmark and The Netherlands. Results indicate high infection pressures in all these countries, slightly increasing in Eastern EU countries. Of these countries, the differences in rates of notified illnesses are much greater, with low numbers in France and Poland, possibly indicating lower probability of detection due to differences in the notification systems, but in the latter case it cannot be excluded that more frequent exposure confers better protection due to acquired immunity.
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