Submitted to: American Association of Avian Pathologists
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2003
Publication Date: June 1, 2003
Citation: Craven, S.E., Stern, N.J., Bailey, J.S., Cox Jr, N.A. 2003. Incidence and tracking of clostridium perfringens through an integrated broiler chicken operation. American Association of Avian Pathologists. V 47, pp 707-711. Interpretive Summary: Clostridium perfringens (Cp) is one of the leading causes of bacterial foodborne diseases, and outbreaks often involve consumption of poultry products. Little is known about the occurrence of this organism in poultry production. The results reported herein for Cp are part of a nationwide effort to determine the incidence of bacterial pathogens, including Salmonella and Campylobacter jejuni, in the commercial broiler chicken production environment. Of 16 broiler flocks sampled on four different farms, 15 were contaminated with Cp as determined by the detection of this pathogen in fecal or cecal samples of chickens on the farm. Of the 16 flocks, 15 were shedding Cp before and/or during transport of chicks from the hatchery to the farm suggesting that intestinal colonization occurs early. Most samples collected on the farm during grow- out of flocks were contaminated with Cp. The highest incidence was detected in wall and fan swabs (presumably dust borne), fly strips, dirt outside the chicken house, and on the farm workers' boots, but non were found in feed samples from the hopper. Cp was isolated frequently from coops used to transport broilers to the processing plant and in processing- plant water. Of the 16 flocks, the percentage of carcasses contaminated with Cp after processing ranged from 8-68%. Additional work is planned to identify the source(s) of this enteropathogen during production.
Technical Abstract: During a calendar year, a study was conducted involving 16 broiler flocks on four different farms of two U. S. poultry integrators. As determined by the detection of Clostridium perfringens (Cp)in fecal/cecal samples, 15 of the flocks became positive for Cp, and only one remained negative for the 6-8 week rearing period. Paper pads beneath chicks transported from the hatchery to the rearing house were contaminated with Cp in 15/16 flocks. When sampled bi-weekly through grow-out, 13 flocks were Cp-positive at 2 weeks of age. These results suggest that colonization of the intestinal tract of broilers by Cp is an early event. Of environmental samples, all but feed in the hopper were contaminated before placement for at least one of the rearing periods. All sample types were contaminated at some point during the rearing period. Of the on-farm samples, the highest incidence of Cp was detected in wall swabs (53%), fan swabs (46%), fly strips (43%), dirt outside the house (43%), and on workers' boots (29%). Birds were usually transported to the processing plant in coops that were already contaminated with Cp. In the plant, Cp was isolated more frequently from samples of scald water than from those of chill water. Cp was recovered from broiler carcasses after chilling in 13/16 flocks. The proportion of Cp-positive carcasses for the contaminated flocks ranged from 8-68% with a mean of 30%.