Skip to main content Accessibility help

A role for flies (Diptera) in the transmission of Campylobacter to broilers?

  • A. ROYDEN (a1), A. WEDLEY (a1), J. Y. MERGA (a1), S. RUSHTON (a2), B. HALD (a3), T. HUMPHREY (a1) and N. J. WILLIAMS (a1)...

Campylobacter is the leading cause of bacterial diarrhoeal disease worldwide, with raw and undercooked poultry meat and products the primary source of infection. Colonization of broiler chicken flocks with Campylobacter has proved difficult to prevent, even with high levels of biosecurity. Dipteran flies are proven carriers of Campylobacter and their ingress into broiler houses may contribute to its transmission to broiler chickens. However, this has not been investigated in the UK. Campylobacter was cultured from 2195 flies collected from four UK broiler farms. Of flies cultured individually, 0·22% [2/902, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0–0·53] were positive by culture for Campylobacter spp. Additionally, 1293 flies were grouped by family and cultured in 127 batches: 4/127 (3·15%, 95% CI 0·11-6·19) from three broiler farms were positive for Campylobacter. Multilocus sequence typing of isolates demonstrated that the flies were carrying broiler-associated sequence types, responsible for human enteric illness. Malaise traps were used to survey the dipteran species diversity on study farms and also revealed up to 612 flies present around broiler-house ventilation inlets over a 2-h period. Therefore, despite the low prevalence of Campylobacter cultured from flies, the risk of transmission by this route may be high, particularly during summer when fly populations are greatest.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      A role for flies (Diptera) in the transmission of Campylobacter to broilers?
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      A role for flies (Diptera) in the transmission of Campylobacter to broilers?
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      A role for flies (Diptera) in the transmission of Campylobacter to broilers?
      Available formats
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Miss A. Royden, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Cheshire, UK, CH64 7TE. (Email:
Hide All
1. European Food Safety Authority. The European Union summary report on trends and sources of zoonoses, zoonotic agents and food-borne outbreaks in 2013. EFSA Journal 2015; 13: 39914155.
2. Tam, CC, et al. Longitudinal study of infectious intestinal disease in the UK (IID2 study): incidence in the community and presenting to general practice. Gut 2012; 61: 6977.
3. Skirrow, MB. Diseases due to Campylobacter, Helicobacter and related bacteria. Journal of Comparative Pathology 1994; 111: 113149.
4. European Food Safety Authority Panel on Biological Hazards. Scientific opinion on Campylobacter in broiler meat production: control options and performance objectives and/or targets at different stages of the food chain. EFSA Journal 2011; 9: 21052245.
5. Gillespie, IA, et al. A case-case comparison of Campylobacter coli and Campylobacter jejuni infection: a tool for generating hypotheses. Emerging Infectious Diseases 2002; 8: 937942.
6. Jørgensen, F, et al. Prevalence and numbers of Salmonella and Campylobacter spp. on raw, whole chickens in relation to sampling methods. International Journal of Food Microbiology 2002; 76: 151164.
7. Boysen, L, et al. Source attribution of human campylobacteriosis in Denmark. Epidemiology & Infection 2014; 142: 15991608.
8. European Food Safety Authority. Analysis of the baseline survey on the prevalence of Campylobacter in broiler batches and of Campylobacter and Salmonella on broiler carcasses in the EU, 2008 – Part A: Campylobacter and Salmonella prevalence estimates. EFSA Journal 2010; 8: 15031602.
9. Nylen, G, et al. The seasonal distribution of Campylobacter infection in nine European countries and New Zealand. Epidemiology and Infection 2002; 128: 383390.
10. Humphrey, T, O'Brien, S, Madsen, M. Campylobacters as zoonotic pathogens: a food production perspective [Review]. International Journal of Food Microbiology 2007; 117: 237257.
11. Jonsson, ME, et al. Effect of climate and farm environment on Campylobacter spp. colonization in Norwegian broiler flocks. Preventative Veterinary Medicine 2012; 107: 95104.
12. Hald, B, et al. Influxed insects as vectors for Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli in Danish broiler houses. Poultry Science 2008; 87: 14281434.
13. Rosef, O, Kapperud, G. House flies (Musca domestica) as possible vectors of Campylobacter fetus subsp. jejuni. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 1983; 45: 381383.
14. Szalanski, AL, et al. Detection of Campylobacter and Escherichia coli O157:H7 from filth flies by polymerase chain reaction. Medical and Veterinary Entomology 2004; 18: 241246.
15. Wright, EP. The isolation of Campylobacter jejuni from flies. Journal of Hygiene 1983; 91: 223226.
16. Ekdahl, K, Normann, B, Andersson, Y. Could flies explain the elusive epidemiology of campylobacteriosis? BMC Infectious Diseases 2005; 5: 11.
17. Stanley, KN, et al. Seasonal variation of thermophilic campylobacters in lambs at slaughter. Journal of Applied Microbiology 1998; 84: 11111116.
18. Stanley, K, Jones, K. Cattle and sheep farms as reservoirs of Campylobacter . Journal of Applied Microbiology 2003; 94 (Suppl. 1): 104113.
19. Berndtson, E, Danielsson-Tham, M, Engvall, A. Campylobacter incidence on a chicken farm and the spread of Campylobacter during the slaughter process. International Journal of Food Microbiology 1996; 32: 3547.
20. Gregory, E, et al. Epidemiological study of Campylobacter spp. in broilers: source, time of colonization, and prevalence. Avian Diseases 1997; 41: 890898.
21. Shane, SM, Montrose, MS, Harrington, KS. Transmission of Campylobacter jejuni by the housefly (Musca domestica). Avian Diseases 1985; 29: 384391.
22. Hald, B, et al. Flies and Campylobacter infection of broiler flocks. Emerging Infectious Diseases 2004; 10: 14901492.
23. Hald, B, Sommer, HM, Skovgård, H. Use of fly screens to reduce Campylobacter spp. introduction in broiler houses. Emerging Infectious Diseases 2007; 13: 19511953.
24. Bahrndorff, S, et al. Foodborne disease prevention and broiler chickens with reduced Campylobacter infection. Emerging Infectious Diseases 2013; 19: 425430.
25. Linton, D, Owen, RJ, Stanley, J. Rapid identification by PCR of the genus Campylobacter and of five Campylobacter species enteropathogenic for man and animals. Research in Microbiology 1996; 147: 707718.
26. Gonzalez, I, et al. Development of a combined PCR-culture technique for the rapid detection of Arcobacter spp. in chicken meat. Letters in Applied Microbiology 2000; 30: 207212.
27. Klena, JD, et al. Differentiation of Campylobacter coli, Campylobacter jejuni, Campylobacter lari, and Campylobacter upsaliensis by a multiplex PCR developed from the nucleotide sequence of the lipid A gene lpxA . Journal of Clinical Microbiology 2004; 42: 55495557.
28. Miller, WG, et al. Extended multilocus sequence typing system for Campylobacter coli, C. lari, C. upsaliensis, and C. helveticus . Journal of Clinical Microbiology 2005; 43: 23152329.
29. Dingle, KE, et al. Multilocus sequence typing system for Campylobacter jejuni . Journal of Clinical Microbiology 2001; 39: 1423.
30. Jolley, K, Maiden, M. BIGSdb: Scalable analysis of bacterial genome variation at the population level. BMC Bioinformatics 2010; 11: 595.
31. Hansson, I, et al. Correlations between Campylobacter spp. prevalence in the environment and broiler flocks. Journal of Applied Microbiology 2007; 103: 640649.
32. Sheppard, SK, et al. Campylobacter genotypes from food animals, environmental sources and clinical disease in Scotland 2005/6. International Journal of Food Microbiology 2009; 134: 96103.
33. Skovgård, H, Kristensen, K, Hald, B. Retention of Campylobacter (Campylobacterales: Campylobacteraceae) in the house fly (Diptera: Muscidae). Journal of Medical Entomology 2011; 48: 12021209.
34. Kjærsgaard, A, et al. Plasticity in behavioural responses and resistance to temperature stress in Musca domestica . Animal Behaviour 2015; 99: 123130.
35. Stern, NJ, et al. Flagellin A gene restriction fragment length polymorphism patterns of Campylobacter spp. isolates from broiler production sources. Avian Diseases 1997; 41: 899905.
36. Richards, CS, et al. Studies on rates of recovery of Shigella from domestic flies and from humans in Southwestern United States. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 1961; 10: 4448.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Royden supplementary material
Tables S1-S3

 Word (39 KB)
39 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed