Prevalence and diversity of Campylobacter jejuni in pig herds on farms with and without cattle or poultry

J. Boes, L. Nersting, Eva Nielsen, S. Kranker, C. Enoe, H.C. Wachmann, Dorte Lau Baggesen

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The prevalence and diversity of Campylobacter jejuni was investigated in pig herds on farms with and without cattle or poultry production. A bacteriological screening of pig cecal samples from 247 finisher herds was carried out at the slaughterhouse. Subsequently, a follow-up study was conducted in 24 herds (either with or without prior C. jejuni isolation from pigs) in which fecal samples were collected from pigs and, if present, cattle and poultry. Samples were analyzed for presence of Campylobacter, and subsequent analysis included species identification, serotyping, and, for selected strains, pulsed-field get electrophoresis typing. In the slaughterhouse screening, C jejuni was isolated from pigs in 21 (8.5%) herds, but no significant difference in prevalence was found between herd types (pigs, pigs and cattle, pigs and poultry). At the slaughterhouse, C. jejuni and Campylobacter coli prevalence in pigs was 2.3 and 90.1%, respectively. In the follow-up study, herd prevalence of C. jejuni was 8.3%, whereas C. jejuni and C. coli were isolated from 0.9 and 92.0% of pigs, respectively. In mixed production herds, C. jejuni predominated in cattle (42.7%) and poultry (31.6%), whereas C. jejuni was only isolated from 1.3 to 2.5% of pigs in these herds. There were no significant differences in C. jejuni or C. coli prevalence in pigs, cattle, and poultry between herds with and without prior C. jejuni isolation at the slaughterhouse. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis typing did not yield evidence of C. jejuni transmission between cattle or poultry and pigs in mixed production herds. In contrast, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis showed indistinguishable serotypes of C. coli in pigs and cattle in two herds. Verification of C. jejuni-positive pig samples showed that individual pigs can excrete high levels of C. jejuni and that mixed infection with C. jejuni and C. coli was common in C. jejuni-positive pigs. The results of our study suggest that transmission of C jejuni between pigs and cattle or poultry in mixed production herds occurs infrequently. Detection of indistinguishable C. coli isolates in two herds, however, might indicate the existence of low-level transmission between pigs and cattle in herds of mixed production.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Food Protection
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)722-727
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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