Aims: To study the prevalence of Campylobacter spp. in the faecal material of reindeer, and to identify the isolates by means of a polyphasic approach. In addition, to study the genetic diversity of Camp. hyointestinalis subsp. hyointestinalis reindeer isolates by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).
Methods and results: The material, collected during the slaughter period in autumn 1998, comprised 399 faecal contents from the reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), a semi-domesticated, meat-producing ruminant of northern Finland. These samples came from 16 herds in the areas of eight reindeer slaughterhouses. Samples were cultured by methods suitable for isolation of fastidious Campylobacter species. Of all samples, 6% (24/399) were Campylobacter-positive. Phenotypic characteristics, SDS-PAGE protein patterns, dot blot DNA-DNA hybridization, 23S rDNA restriction fragment polymorphism analysis and PFGE identified the isolates as Camp. hyointestinalis subsp. hyointestinalis.
Conclusions: Campylobacter hyointestinalis subsp. hyointestinalis was the only Campylobacter species isolated from reindeer in this study. The isolates showed high genomic diversity in PFGE with the restriction enzymes SmaI and KpnI.
Significance and impact of the study: PFGE analysis is a useful subtyping method for epidemiological studies. Contaminated reindeer meat can be a source for human infections.