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Molecular-based surveillance of campylobacteriosis in New Zealand - from source attribution to genomic epidemiology

Abstract

Molecular-based surveillance of campylobacteriosis in New Zealand contributed to the implementation of interventions that led to a 50% reduction in notified and hospitalised cases of the country's most important zoonosis. From a pre-intervention high of 384 per 100,000 population in 2006, incidence dropped by 50% in 2008; a reduction that has been sustained since. This article illustrates many aspects of the successful use of molecular-based surveillance, including the distinction between control-focused and strategy-focused surveillance and advances in source attribution. We discuss how microbial genetic data can enhance the understanding of epidemiological explanatory and response variables and thereby enrich the epidemiological analysis. Sequence data can be fitted to evolutionary and epidemiological models to gain new insights into pathogen evolution, the nature of associations between strains of pathogens and host species, and aspects of between-host transmission. With the advent of newer sequencing technologies and the availability of rapid, high-coverage genome sequence data, such techniques may be extended and refined within the emerging discipline of genomic epidemiology. The aim of this article is to summarise the experience gained in New Zealand with molecular-based surveillance of campylobacteriosis and to discuss how this experience could be used to further advance the use of molecular tools in surveillance.

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