New research out of Denmark has shown that the use of fly screens in chicken coops can reduce the amount of Camplyobacter bacteria in these environments. Campylobacter is the leading cause of intestinal disease in humans in the European Union, according to the European Food Safety Authority, and 20 to 30 percent of these cases are linked to the consumption of chickens. In the United States, Campylobacter is the fourth most common source of foodborne illness, and causes an estimated 845,000 illnesses each year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most Campylobacter outbreaks in the U.S. arise from contaminated poultry. Previous research has suggested that flies play a predominant role in spreading the bacteria in broiler houses, and that implementing fly screens can reduce the amount of Campylobacter in these settings. A team of Danish scientists tested this theory at six poultry farms in Denmark and found that after fly screens were put in place, the prevalence of Campylobacter in the ten broiler houses at these farms was reduced from 41.4 percent to 10.3 percent. And while levels of Campylobacter in chicken houses usually peak in the summer, that seasonal spike did not occur in houses where screens were implemented, observed the researchers. Given the results of the study, “Use of fly screens, or other means of fly control, could be an easy and effective way to reduce the number of cases of campylobacteriosis among humans worldwide,” conclude the authors. However, other measures to reduce the spread of Campylobacter must be in place, they note, so that the bacteria is not introduced through other transmission routes. The study was part of the CamCon (Campylobacter control) project, funded by the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. 244547. It was conducted by researchers at the Technical University of Denmark and the National Veterinary Institute in Uppsala, Sweden.