|Young, Colin - 6202-40-30; USDA-ARS|
|Egan, Leigh - TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY|
Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 2, 2000
Publication Date: November 1, 2000
Interpretive Summary: Campylobacter is a foodborne bacterium that can cause intestinal disease or serious illness in humans. Livestock and poultry can have the organism in their digestive tracts and public health agencies are concerned about human exposure through meat and poultry products. We have found that we could reduce the prevalence of Campylobacter in piglets by rearing them in nurseries away from the sow. This could have important implications for a way of reducing Campylobacter in animals, thereby assuring that the consumer continues to have a supply of wholesome meat.
Technical Abstract: Pigs may be a natural reservoir of Campylobacter and can be colonized as early as 24 h of age. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate what effect early removal of piglets from Campylobacter-positive sows has on Campylobacter prevalence in neonates. In two replications, we removed piglets from sows within 24 h of birth, reared them in specialized nurseries for 21 days, cultured daily rectal swabs for Campylobacter, and compared Campylobacter status of these piglets to that of littermates reared on sows. The nurseries consisted of wire-floored farrowing crates that were equipped with heaters and self-feeders. In Replicate I, the campylobacter prevalence of nursery-reared piglets was 13 of 14 (93%)on day 2 and 0 of 14 (0%) on day 20. Campylobacter prevalence of the sow- reared piglets was 8 of 9 (89%) from days 2 to 20. In Replicate II, 12 of 29 (41%) on day 2, and 5 of 26 (19%) on day 20, of nursery-reared piglets were culture-positive for Campylobacter. Of the sow-reared piglets, Campylobacter status was 7 of 15 (47%) on day 1 and 15 of 15 (100%) on day 20. These data suggest that successful colonization of the gut by Campylobacter is probably related to constant exposure of piglets to Campylobacter-positive feces. Based on our results, we conclude that Campylobacter prevalence may be diminished in neonates that are reared off-sow in specialized nurseries.