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Int J Food Microbiol. 2008 Mar 31;123(1-2):177-82. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2007.12.012. Epub 2008 Jan 29.

A survey of food-borne pathogens in free-range poultry farms.

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Department of Animal Health and Production, NEIKER-Instituto Vasco de Investigación y Desarrollo Agrario, Berreaga 1, 48160 Derio, Bizkaia, Spain.


A survey of the occurrence of Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli was performed on 60 flocks of free-range chicken from 34 farms in the Basque Country (Northern Spain). Campylobacter was the most prevalent of the four pathogens, isolated in 70.6% of the farms, followed by L. monocytogenes (26.5%), and Salmonella (2.9%). No E. coli O157 or other STEC were isolated. In total 48 flocks from 26 farms were positive for at least one pathogen: 31 of them for a single pathogen (64.6%), and 17 for more than one species (35.4%). C. coli was more prevalent than C. jejuni (15 vs. 13 farms), and both species of Campylobacter were found in 3 farms. L. monocytogenes isolates were identified as serotype 4b complex, and the only Salmonella isolated was serovar Enteritidis. flaA PCR-RFLP performed on 91 Campylobacter isolates (36 C. jejuni and 55 C. coli) yielded 26 patterns, with higher diversity among the C. jejuni isolates. More than one pattern was found in 11 farms, and in 8 of them several patterns were found within the same flock. The findings of the present study suggest that the free-range rearing conditions described herein might have an advantageous effect on diminishing Salmonella but not on Campylobacter or L. monocytogenes flock contamination.

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