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Avian Dis. 1998 Oct-Dec;42(4):732-7.

Shedding and colonization of Campylobacter jejuni in broilers from day-of-hatch to slaughter age.

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Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.


Poultry are considered to be the primary reservoirs of Campylobacter jejuni for humans. Campylobacter jejuni can colonize the poultry intestinal tract and its subsequent shedding can result in environmental contamination, resulting in an increased risk of infection for the rest of the flock. At present, there is no information on the daily shedding pattern of C. jejuni in broiler chickens. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine the daily shedding pattern of C. jejuni in broiler chickens and to correlate intestinal colonization with fecal shedding, which would aid in the development of intervention strategies such as the use of competitive exclusion products at 1 day of age. Twenty-four broiler chicks were orally inoculated with 1.6 x 10(7) colony-forming units of C. jejuni, and the reisolation rate of the organism was determined daily from day 1 to day 43. Fifty percent and 70% of the chicks were shedding C. jejuni within 24 and 48 hr postinoculation, respectively. The group collectively reached a peak excretion on days 13-19 postinoculation. There was a steady decline in fecal shedding after the third week. By market age, on day 43, only 37.5% (9/24) of the birds were shedding C. jejuni in their feces. Throughout the sampling period from days 1 to 43, a cyclic pattern of shedding was observed in individual birds. Individual birds excreted C. jejuni on an average of 25 out of 43 days. The C. jejuni isolate failed to colonize 16.6% (4/24) of the birds. A small percentage of the birds, 12.5% (3/24), were observed to be chronic shedders. Enumeration of C. jejuni in the crop, jejunum, and cecum on day 43 revealed that the cecum was the major colonization site, and 15 out of the 24 birds carried C. jejuni in their intestinal tract.

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