Pathogen source attribution studies are a useful tool for identifying reservoirs of human infection. Based on Multilocus Sequence Typing (MLST) data, such studies have identified chicken as a major source of C. jejuni human infection. The use of whole genome sequence-based typing methods offers potential to improve the precision of attribution beyond that which is possible from 7 MLST loci. Using published data and 156 novel C. jejuni genomes sequenced in this study, we performed probabilistic host source attribution of clinical C. jejuni isolates from France using three types of genotype data: comparative genomic fingerprints; MLST genes; 15 host segregating genes previously identified by whole genome sequencing. Consistent with previous studies, chicken was an important source of campylobacteriosis in France (31-63% of clinical isolates assigned). There was also evidence that ruminants are a source (22-55% of clinical isolates assigned), suggesting that further investigation of potential transmission routes from ruminants to human would be useful. Additionally, we found evidence of environmental and pet sources. However, the relative importance as sources varied according to the year of isolation and the genotyping technique used. Annual variations in attribution emphasize the dynamic nature of zoonotic transmission and the need to perform source attribution regularly.
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