Campylobacter is the most common cause of foodborne bacterium-mediated diarrheal disease in humans worldwide. Broiler chickens are a natural host for this pathogen and their carcasses often become contaminated during slaughter, making poultry products the most significant source for campylobacteriosis in humans.
Interestingly, chickens are only colonized from the age of two to three weeks, due to the protection by maternal IgY antibodies (MAB). These antibodies are transferred from the serum of the mother to the egg yolk, protecting the chicks during the first weeks when their immune system is not yet fully developed.
The aim of this project is to assess if higher maternal anti-Campylobacter titers can be associated with a longer lasting protection of broilers against Campylobacter infection and if, by immunizing broiler breeders, broilers can be protected against Campylobacter until the end of the grow-out period.
For this purpose, we will answer the following research questions: 1/To which extent is the duration of protection against Campylobacter related to the amount of MAB transferred from the serum of the mother to the egg yolk and embryo? 2/ Does immunization of broiler breeders against Campylobacter increase maternal anti-Campylobacter titers in the broiler breeder and in their progeny 3/ will increased MAB titers lead to a longer lasting protection of broilers against Campylobacter, ideally until the end of the grow-out period? 4/ How cost-effective is immunization of broiler breeders?
The answer to these questions will allow evaluating the usefulness and feasibility of applying immunization of broiler breeders as a control measure against Campylobacter infections in the field.