Background: Greater attention has been given to Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni) prevalence in poultry and ruminants as they are regarded as the major contributing reservoirs of human campylobacteriosis. However, relatively little work has been done to assess the prevalence in urban wild birds and pets in New Zealand, a country with the highest campylobacteriosis notification rates. Therefore, the aim of the study was to assess the faeco-prevalence of C. jejuni in urban wild birds and pets and its temporal trend in the Manawatu region of New Zealand.
Findings: A repeated cross-sectional study was conducted from April 2008 to July 2009, where faecal samples were collected from 906 ducks, 835 starlings, 23 Canadian goose, 2 swans, 2 pied stilts, 498 dogs and 82 cats. The faeco-prevalence of C. jejuni was 20% in ducks, 18% in starlings, 9% in Canadian goose, 5% in dogs and 7% in cats. The faeco-prevalence of C. jejuni was relatively higher during warmer months of the year in ducks, starlings and dogs while starlings showed increased winter prevalence. No such trend could be assessed in Canadian goose, swans, pied stilts and cats as samples could not be collected for the entire study period from these species.
Conclusions: This study estimated the faeco-prevalence of C. jejuni in different animal species where the prevalence was relatively high during warmer months in general. However, there was relative increase in winter prevalence in starlings. The urban wild bird species and pets may be considered potential risk factors for human campylobacteriosis in New Zealand, particularly in small children.