Proteins Combat Campylobacter
April 28, 2004
Proteins from harmless microorganisms
can reduce Campylobacter and other pathogenic bacteria in poultry
intestines, a team of Agricultural Research
Service and Russian scientists has discovered.
ARS microbiologist Norman J. Stern of the
Poultry Microbiological Safety
Research Unit in Athens, Ga., used the proteins, called bacteriocins, to
reduce Campylobacter numbers in bird intestines by 99.999 percent in
small research trials. Large research trials will be necessary to determine if
the technology is commercially feasible.
According to Stern, this is the first treatment used in the last 25 years to
achieve a significant reduction of Campylobacter in research trials on
The bacteriocins reduce the numbers of Campylobacter by a millionfold
when fed to chickens. Bacteriocins could provide an effective alternative to
antibiotics the poultry industry uses to control pathogenic bacteria.
Foodborne bacterial infections are responsible for billions of dollars of
economic losses in the United States and worldwide. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that
Campylobacter is one of the most common bacterial causes of diarrheal
illness in humans in the United States. CDC has identified poultry as the
primary vehicle for its transmission to humans. Controlling
Campylobacter in poultry would reduce public exposure to the bacteria.
Preliminary data indicate bacteriocins may be effective in reducing other
foodborne bacteria such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli. The
patented technology to utilize the bacteriocins is available for licensing for
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.