Aims: To assess whether flies and slugs acquire strains of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli present in local ruminant faeces.
Methods and results: Campylobacter was cultured from flies, slugs and ruminant faeces that were collected from a single farm in Scotland over a 19-week period. The isolates were typed using multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) and compared with isolates from cattle and sheep faeces. Campylobacter jejuni and Camp. coli were isolated from 5·8% (n=155, average of 75 flies per pool) and 13·3% (n=15, average of 8·5 slugs per pool) of pooled fly and slug samples, respectively. The most common sequence type (ST) in flies was Camp. coli ST-962 (approx. 40%) regardless of the prevalence in local cattle (2·3%) or sheep (25·0%) faeces. Two positive slug pools generated the same ST that has not been reported elsewhere.
Conclusions: Despite their low carriage rate, flies are able to acquire Campylobacter STs that are locally present, although the subset carried may be biased when compared to local source. Slugs were shown to carry a previously unreported Campylobacter ST.
Significance and impact of the study: This study has demonstrated that flies carry viable Campylobacter and may contribute to the transfer of STs within and between groups of animals on farms. Further, they may therefore present a risk to human health via their contact with ready-to-eat foods or surfaces.
© 2010 University of Aberdeen. Journal compilation © 2010 The Society for Applied Microbiology.