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Utilizing a combination of molecular and spatial tools to assess the effect of a public health intervention

Abstract

Until recently New Zealand had one of the highest rates of human campylobacteriosis reported by industrialized countries. Since the introduction of a range of control measures in the poultry production chain a reduction in human cases of around 50% has been observed nationwide. To inform risk managers a combination of spatial, temporal and molecular tools – including minimum spanning trees, risk surfaces, rarefaction analysis and dynamic source attribution modelling – was used in this study to formally evaluate the reduction in disease risk that occurred after the implementation of control measures in the poultry industry. Utilizing data from a sentinel surveillance site in the Manawatu region of New Zealand, our analyses demonstrated a reduction in disease risk attributable to a reduction in the number of poultry-associated campylobacteriosis cases. Before the implementation of interventions poultry-associated cases were more prevalent in urban than rural areas, whereas for ruminant-associated cases the reverse was evident. In addition to the overall reduction in prevalence, this study also showed a stronger intervention effect in urban areas where poultry sources were more dominant. Overall a combination of molecular and spatial tools has provided evidence that the interventions aimed at reducing Campylobacter contamination of poultry were successful in reducing poultry-associated disease and this will inform the development of future control strategies.

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