The subtypes of Campylobacter isolates from human infections in two Danish counties were compared to isolates from retail food samples and faecal samples from chickens, pigs and cattle. During a 1-year period, 1285 Campylobacter isolates from these sources were typed by two methods: ‘Penner’ heat-stable serotyping and automated ribotyping (RiboPrinting). C. jejuni was the dominating species, but C. coli was more prevalent among food and chicken isolates (16%) compared to human isolates (4%). In total, 356 different combined sero-ribotypes (subtypes) were found. A large subtype overlap was seen between human isolates and isolates from food (66%), chickens (59%) and cattle (83%). This was verified by PFGE typing of 212 isolates representing selected subtypes. All frequent (n>3) subtypes found in food were also present in humans. Sixty-one per cent of the isolates from domestically acquired infections had subtypes that were also found in food as opposed to 31% of travel-associated infections. The results showed differences in the various Campylobacter populations, e.g. the Danish population as reflected in the domestically acquired infections and the Danish-produced food was more uniform than the isolates originating from outside the country. The study shows that most C. jejuni subtypes found in poultry food samples, broiler chickens, and cattle were represented in the domestically acquired cases, indicating that C. jejuni from these reservoirs are likely sources of human infections in Denmark.
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