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. 2011 Jan;110(1):266-76.
doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2010.04883.x. Epub 2010 Nov 9.

Campylobacter Genotypes From Poultry Transportation Crates Indicate a Source of Contamination and Transmission

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Free PMC article

Campylobacter Genotypes From Poultry Transportation Crates Indicate a Source of Contamination and Transmission

R Hastings et al. J Appl Microbiol. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Aims: Crates used to transport live poultry can be contaminated with Campylobacter, despite periodic sanitization, and are potential vectors for transmission between flocks. We investigated the microbial contamination of standard and silver ion containing crates in normal use and the genetic structure of associated Campylobacter populations.

Methods and results: Bacteria from crates were enumerated by appropriate culture techniques, and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) was used to determine the genetic structure of Campylobacters isolated from standard and silver ion containing crates. Compared to standard crates, counts of bacteria, including Campylobacter, were consistently lower on silver ion containing crates throughout the decontamination process. In total, 16 different sequence types were identified from 89 Campylobacter jejuni isolates from crates. These were attributed to putative source population (chicken, cattle, sheep, the environment, wild bird) using the population genetic model, structure. Most (89%) were attributed to chicken, with 22% attribution to live chicken and 78% to retail poultry meat. MLST revealed a progressive shift in allele frequencies through the crate decontamination process. Campylobacter on crates survived for at least 3 h after sanitization, a period of time equivalent to the journey from the processing plant to the majority of farms in the catchment, showing the potential for involvement of crates in transmission.

Conclusions: Inclusion of a silver ion biocide in poultry transportation crates to levels demonstrating acceptable antibacterial activity in vitro reduces the level of bacterial contamination during normal crate use compared to standard crates. Molecular analysis of Campylobacter isolates indicated a change in genetic structure of the population with respect to the poultry-processing plant sanitization practice.

Significance and impact of the study: The application of a sustainable antimicrobial to components of poultry processing may contribute to reducing the levels of Campylobacter circulating in poultry.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Quantification of aerobic colony count (a) and Campylobacter colony count (b) of 25-cm2 sample areas, and the number of Campylobacter-positive swabs (c) from standard formula image and silver ion containing formula image chicken transportation crates obtained after removal of live birds at the processing plant and across the decontamination process.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Live-Dead-stained Campylobacter cells exposed to silver ion-treated crate material and standard crate material. Cells stained during logarithmic phase growth in Bolton broth (a) fluoresce green indicating viability. Cells photographed 1 h (b), 2 h (c) and 4 h (d) after exposure to silver ion containing crate material show an increasing red/orange fluorescence indicating a progressive reduction in viability. Live-Dead-stained Campylobacter cells exposed to untreated crate material show less reduction in viability over a 4-h period (e) compared to d.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Frequency of alleles that showed an increasing (a) and decreasing (b) trend throughout the crate decontamination process at stages: prewater wash (i); postwash (ii); postsanitization in 0·25% peracetic acid (iii); 1 h postsanitization (iv); 2 h postsanitization (v); 3 h postsanitization (vi). The abundance of alleles is expressed as a percentage of the total number of alleles at that locus at that sample point. formula image
Figure 4
Figure 4
Assignment of Campylobacter jejuni STs from chicken transport crates (n = 89) to origin population using the Bayesian clustering algorithm structure. Each isolate is represented by a vertical bar, showing the estimated probability that it originates from each of the putative sources indicated by different colours. Two independent analyses were carried out assigning tray genotypes to (a) chickens, cattle, sheep, the environment and wild birds, and (b) live chicken (faecal samples) or dead chicken (carcass swabs or retail meat). An equal area of each colour would be expected in the absence of genetic differentiation by host species (a) or food chain stage (b). (a) formula image wild bird; formula image environment; formula image sheep; formula image cattle; formula image chicken. (b) formula image dead chicken; formula image live chicken.

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