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Study Examines Campylobacter Colonisation of Commercial Turkeys

22 February 2013

ITALY - All three of the turkey flocks studied in northern Italy were colonised at different times with different genotypes of Campylobacter that persisted throughout the entire production cycle.

The findings of a new study suggest that Italian commercial turkeys might be widely colonised by different genotypes of Campylobacter jejuni and C.coli and that differences in the distribution and epidemiologic dynamics of these microorganisms might occur among flocks.

Poultry are recognised as a main reservoir of thermophilic Campylobacter but few studies have been carried out on commercial meat turkeys, reported Alessandra Piccirillo of the University of Padua in Italy and co-authors in a paper published in Avian Diseases last year.

Their study aimed to assess the occurrence of thermophilic Campylobacter spp., their genetic diversity, and the trend of the infection during the whole production cycle of three turkey flocks from different farms in northern Italy.

Flocks were monitored from the time of housing day-old poults to slaughter time by collecting samples (meconium and cloacal swabs) at weekly intervals up to the recovery of Campylobacter spp. and then twice a month.

A conventional culture method and a multiplex PCR assay were used for Campylobacter detection and identification. A subset of isolates was genetically characterised by random amplified polymorphic DNA-PCR (RAPD-PCR) and flagellin gene A short variable region (flaA-SVR) sequencing.

Although at different times, all flocks became colonised by C.jejuni or C.coli or both that persisted throughout the entire production cycle.

Overall, nine RAPD types and 14 flaA-SVR types were detected with differences in their distribution among flocks and sampling times. Moreover, changes in the Campylobacter genotypes colonising turkeys were observed over time within each flock.


Giacomelli M., C. Andrighetto, An. Lombardi, M. Martini and A. Piccirillo. 2012. A longitudinal study on thermophilic Campylobacter spp. in commercial turkey flocks in northern Italy: occurrence and genetic diversity. Avian Diseases 56(4):693-700.

You can view the full paper by clicking here.

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