The aim of the present study was to assess the prevalence and genetic characteristics of Arcobacter spp. in bovine bulk tank milk produced in Apulia Region (Italy). Samples collected from 396 dairy farms, after enrichment in a selective broth, were subjected to an Arcobacter genus - specific Real Time PCR. Positive broths, previously filtered, were seeded on Karmali, MCCD and Columbia Blood Agar plates; presumptive Arcobacter spp. colonies were identified using an amplification and sequencing method and then characterized by Multi-Locus Sequence Typing (MLST). Prevalence of Arcobacter spp. in bovine milk samples was 5% (20/396); A. butzleri was the only isolated species, in agreement with previous studies that reported A. butzleri as the most commonly recovered species in milk and dairy products. MLST analysis of the 20 A. butzleri strains identified 81 alleles and 16 STs. Consistent with previous studies, MLST revealed a high level of heterogeneity between the A. butzleri isolates and confirmed the high discriminatory power of this method and its suitability for epidemiological investigations. This study confirmed the importance of raw milk as a possible source of Arcobacter spp. for humans.
Keywords: Arcobacter; Bovine; Milk.