Campylobacter is the most common cause of bacterial gastroenteritis in the UK and a major burden to public health with economic loss estimated to be £700 million/year through healthcare costs and lost working hours. Further, the problem is worsening as existing treatments for severe infections are becoming less effective with the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Indeed, Campylobacter is designated as a ‘high priority’ pathogen on the WHO watch list for antimicrobial resistance.
In this seminar I will outline the current state of human disease and antimicrobial resistance levels with reference to our 20-year longitudinal study of Oxfordshire samples received at the John Radcliffe Hospital microbiology lab. I will discuss research into how meat chickens, the most common source of human disease, become infected by Campylobacter and demonstrate how interdisciplinary research, combining bacterial genomics and culture-independent typing methods with animal welfare studies, may help us to better understand this elusive pathogen.
Dr Colles trained as a microbiologist and biomedical scientist, working in veterinary and clinical diagnostic laboratories for the APHA, UKHSA and NHS. She moved to a career in research at the University of Oxford, using genomic analysis of bacteria to investigate routes of transmission of Campylobacter, from farm to fork. She also investigates gut health more broadly, combining microbiome studies with chicken welfare as a means to improve resilience to disease and reduce the need for antimicrobials on farm, and in-turn, improve food safety and human health.