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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Nov;74(22):6887-91. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00451-08. Epub 2008 Sep 12.

Darkling beetles (Alphitobius diaperinus) and their larvae as potential vectors for the transfer of Campylobacter jejuni and Salmonella enterica serovar paratyphi B variant Java between successive broiler flocks.

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  • 1Agrotechnology & Food Science, Laboratory of Food Microbiology, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 8129, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Broiler flocks often become infected with Campylobacter and Salmonella, and the exact contamination routes are still not fully understood. Insects like darkling beetles and their larvae may play a role in transfer of the pathogens between consecutive cycles. In this study, several groups of beetles and their larvae were artificially contaminated with a mixture of Salmonella enterica serovar Paratyphi B Variant Java and three C. jejuni strains and kept for different time intervals before they were fed to individually housed chicks. Most inoculated insects were positive for Salmonella and Campylobacter just before they were fed to the chicks. However, Campylobacter could not be isolated from insects that were kept for 1 week before they were used to mimic an empty week between rearing cycles. All broilers fed insects that were inoculated with pathogens on the day of feeding showed colonization with Campylobacter and Salmonella at levels of 50 to 100%. Transfer of both pathogens by groups of insects that were kept for 1 week before feeding to the chicks was also observed, but at lower levels. Naturally contaminated insects that were collected at a commercial broiler farm colonized broilers at low levels as well. In conclusion, the fact that Salmonella and Campylobacter can be transmitted via beetles and their larvae to flocks in successive rearing cycles indicates that there should be intensive control programs for exclusion of these insects from broiler houses.

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