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Infect Ecol Epidemiol. 2016 Jun 28;6:31685. doi: 10.3402/iee.v6.31685. eCollection 2016.

The impact of environmental conditions on Campylobacter jejuni survival in broiler faeces and litter.

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UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland;
UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
Teagasc Ashtown Food Research Centre, Ashtown, Dublin 15, Ireland.



Campylobacter jejuni is the leading bacterial food-borne pathogen within the European Union, and poultry meat is an important vehicle for its transmission to humans. However, there is limited knowledge about how this organism persists in broiler litter and faeces. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of a number of environmental parameters, such as temperature, humidity, and oxygen, on Campylobacter survival in both broiler litter and faeces.


Used litter was collected from a Campylobacter-negative broiler house after final depopulation and fresh faeces were collected from transport crates. Samples were confirmed as Campylobacter negative according to modified ISO methods for veterinary samples. Both sample matrices were inoculated with 9 log10 CFU/ml C. jejuni and incubated under high (≥85%) and low (≤70%) relative humidity conditions at three different temperatures (20°C, 25°C, and 30°C) under both aerobic and microaerophilic atmospheres. Inoculated litter samples were then tested for Campylobacter concentrations at time zero and every 2 hours for 12 hours, while faecal samples were examined at time zero and every 24 hours for 120 hours. A two-tailed t-test assuming unequal variance was used to compare mean Campylobacter concentrations in samples under the various temperature, humidity, and atmospheric conditions.


C. jejuni survived significantly longer (P≤0.01) in faeces, with a minimum survival time of 48 hours, compared with 4 hours in used broiler litter. C. jejuni survival was significantly enhanced at 20°C in all environmental conditions in both sample matrices tested compared with survival at 25°C and 30°C. In general, survival was greater in microaerophilic compared with aerobic conditions in both sample matrices. Humidity, at the levels examined, did not appear to significantly impact C. jejuni survival in any sample matrix. The persistence of Campylobacter in broiler litter and faeces under various environmental conditions has implications for farm litter management, hygiene, and disinfection practices.


Campylobacter jejuni; aerobic; atmosphere; broilers; humidity; microaerophilic; temperature

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