Bayesian analysis of culture and PCR methods for detection ofCampylobacterspp. in broiler caecal samples

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The objective of this study was to estimate the sensitivity and specificity of a culture method and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method for detection of two Campylobacter species: C. jejuni and C. coli. Data were collected during a 3-year survey of UK broiler flocks, and consisted of parallel sampling of caeca from 436 batches of birds by both PCR and culture. Batches were stratified by season (summer/non-summer) and whether they were the first depopulation of the flock, resulting in four sub-populations. A Bayesian approach in the absence of a gold standard was adopted, and the sensitivity and specificity of the PCR and culture for each Campylobacter subtype was estimated, along with the true C. jejuni and C. coli prevalence in each sub-population. Results indicated that the sensitivity of the culture method was higher than that of PCR in detecting both species when the samples were derived from populations infected with at most one species of Campylobacter. However, from a mixed population, the sensitivity of culture for detecting both C. jejuni or C. coli is reduced while PCR is potentially able to detect both species, although the total probability of correctly identifying at least one species by PCR is similar to that of the culture method.

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