Routine necropsies of 27 asymptomatic juvenile chinchillas revealed a high prevalence of gastric ulcers with microscopic lymphoplasmacytic gastroenteritis and typhlocolitis. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis using Campylobacter genus-specific partial 16S rRNA primers revealed the presence of Campylobacter spp. DNA in the faeces of 12 of 27 animals (44.4%). Species-specific partial 16S rRNA PCR and sequencing confirmed that these animals were colonized with Campylobacter lanienae, a gram-negative, microaerophilic bacterium that was first identified on routine faecal screening of slaughterhouse employees and subsequently isolated from faeces of livestock. Campylobacter lanienae was isolated from the faeces of six PCR-positive animals and identified with species-specific PCR and full 16S rRNA sequencing. Phylogenetic analysis showed that these isolates clustered with C. lanienae strain NCTC 13004. PCR analysis of DNA extracted from gastrointestinal tissues revealed the presence of C. lanienae DNA in the caecum and colon of these chinchillas. Gastrointestinal lesions were scored and compared between C. lanienae-positive and C. lanienae-negative animals. There was no correlation between colonization status and lesion severity in the stomach, liver, duodenum, or colon. Possible routes of C. lanienae infection in chinchillas could include waterborne transmission and faecal-oral transmission from wild mice and rats or livestock. Based on these findings, the authors conclude that C. lanienae colonizes the lower bowel of chinchillas in the absence of clinical disease. This is the first report of C. lanienae in any rodent species. Campylobacter lanienae isolates from different mammalian species demonstrate heterogeneity by 16S rRNA sequence comparison. Analysis using rpoB suggests that isolates and clones currently identified as C. lanienae may represent multiple species or subspecies.
Keywords: 16S ribosomal RNA; Campylobacter lanienae; DNA sequence analysis; chinchilla; rpoB.
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