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Poult Sci. 2013 Feb;92(2):468-73. doi: 10.3382/ps.2012-02811.

Colonization of internal organs by Salmonella Enteritidis in experimentally infected laying hens housed in conventional or enriched cages.

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USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Egg Safety and Quality Research Unit, Athens, GA 30605, USA.


More human illnesses caused by Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica serovar Enteritidis throughout the world have been linked to the consumption of contaminated eggs than to any other food vehicle. Deposition of this pathogen in the edible contents of eggs occurs when systemic infections of laying hens involve colonization of reproductive organs. In recent years, the consequences of different housing systems for laying flocks have become the focus of international attention from both animal welfare and public health perspectives. Nevertheless, many questions remain unresolved regarding the food safety implications of various laying hen production systems. The present study assessed the effects of 2 different housing types (conventional cages and colony cages enriched with perching, nesting, and scratching areas) on the invasion of internal organs by Salmonella Enteritidis in experimentally infected laying hens. In 2 trials, groups of laying hens housed in each cage system were orally inoculated with doses of 1.0 × 10(7) cfu of Salmonella Enteritidis. At 5 to 6 d postinoculation, hens were euthanized and samples of internal organs were removed for bacteriologic culturing. For both trials combined, Salmonella Enteritidis was recovered from 95.3% of cecal samples, with no significant differences observed between housing systems. However, Salmonella Enteritidis was detected at significantly (P < 0.05) higher frequencies from hens in conventional cages than from hens in enriched cages for samples of livers (96.9 vs. 75.0%), spleens (93.8 vs. 53.1%), ovaries (25.0 vs. 10.4%), and oviducts (19.8 vs. 2.1%). These results demonstrate that differences in housing systems for egg-laying flocks can affect the susceptibility of hens to colonization of internal organs by Salmonella Enteritidis.

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