Mechanisms of egg contamination by Salmonella Enteritidis

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2009 Jul;33(4):718-38. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.2008.00161.x. Epub 2009 Jan 21.


Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) has been the major cause of the food-borne salmonellosis pandemic in humans over the last 20 years, during which contaminated hen's eggs were the most important vehicle of the infection. Eggs can be contaminated on the outer shell surface and internally. Internal contamination can be the result of penetration through the eggshell or by direct contamination of egg contents before oviposition, originating from infection of the reproductive organs. Once inside the egg, the bacteria need to cope with antimicrobial factors in the albumen and vitelline membrane before migration to the yolk can occur. It would seem that serotype Enteritidis has intrinsic characteristics that allow an epidemiological association with hen eggs that are still undefined. There are indications that SE survives the attacks with the help of antimicrobial molecules during the formation of the egg in the hen's oviduct and inside the egg. This appears to require a unique combination of genes encoding for improved cell wall protection and repairing cellular and molecular damage, among others.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Eggs / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Food Contamination
  • Salmonella Infections, Animal / microbiology*
  • Salmonella enteritidis / genetics
  • Salmonella enteritidis / isolation & purification
  • Salmonella enteritidis / pathogenicity
  • Salmonella enteritidis / physiology*
  • Virulence Factors / genetics
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism


  • Virulence Factors