DetectingCampylobacter coliin young chicks using two different cloacal swab techniques

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It is important to determine whether valuable broiler-breeder chicks are contaminated with Campylobacter. It is important to have a non-destructive method to determine whether microorganisms such as Campylobacter are present without sacrificing the animal. The objective of this study was to evaluate the reliability of cloacal swabs to detect Campylobacter in young chicks. Day-old chicks (n = 25) were gavaged with 101-3 or 106Campylobacter coli (C. coli) gentamicin-resistant marker strain. Batches of chicks were placed in separate isolation units, and 7, 10, 14, or 21 d post challenge, 10 birds per group were cloacally swabbed shallow (9 mm) and deep (24 mm). Swabs were placed into 5 mL of Tecra® broth, vortexed, and streaked for isolation onto Campy Cefex agar plus 200 ppm of gentamicin. After swabbing, birds were sacrificed and one cecum was quantitatively analyzed for C. coli from the control group; both ceca from all challenged birds were analyzed for C. coli. At 14 d post challenge, 95% of the shallow and 90% of the deep swabs were positive. Even with a low inoculum of 103, C. coli achieved a high degree of cecal colonization, and the cloacal swab (either shallow or deep) proved reliable for detecting C. coli. Birds challenged with >102, after 7 and 14 d were colonized with >106 cells. After 7 d, all shallow and deep swabs were positive for C. coli, regardless of challenge dose. Since it might not be practical in industry to process the swabs the d of collection, we looked at the reliability of cloacal swabs after freezing for up to 21 days. When the level in the ceca was high, recovery of C. coli was excellent, but when the level was low (± 102 inoculum level), recovery was very unreliable. If the levels of Campylobacter are relatively high (log ≥ 6.0) in the ceca, both the shallow and deep swabs, unfrozen or frozen, are reliable, nondestructive methods to detect this microorganism.

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