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ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #121545


item Stern, Norman
item Cox Jr, Nelson
item Musgrove, Michael

Submitted to: Avian Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/10/2001
Publication Date: 2/2/2002
Citation: Stern, N.J., Robach, M.C., Cox Jr, N.A., Musgrove, M.T. 2002. Effect of drinking water chlorination on campylobacter spp colonization of broilers. Avian Diseases. 46:401-404.

Interpretive Summary: Campylobacter spp., the most frequently reported bacterium causing sporadic outbreaks of foodborne illness, is often isolated from live and processed chickens. The organism's sensitivity to disinfectants such as chlorine has been demonstrated in the laboratory. Experiments were designed in which chicks held in a carefully controlled environment (isolation units) and under commercial conditions were provided chlorinated or untreated water. As the birds grew, cecal and / or fecal samples were taken and analyzed for the presence of Campylobacter spp. Though there was a marginal decrease in Campylobacter spp. prevalence and levels in the birds provided chlorinated water in isolation units, droppings from chickens raised under commercial conditions contained similar numbers of Campylobacter spp. regardless of the water type they were provided. This information is important for the poultry industry and their producers who might rely on chlorinated water to decrease the prevalence of this organism in their broiler flocks.

Technical Abstract: The main source for Campylobacter spp. transmission from the environment to broiler chickens is still unclear. A suggested reservoir for the organism has been broiler drinking water. This study was conducted with broilers using experimental conditions (isolation units) and under commercial conditions. We compared intestinal colonization in chickens provided 2 to 5 ppm chlorinated drinking water in relation to colonization in chickens given unsupplemented drinking water. No significant difference (P > 0.05) was detected in isolation rate or level of Campylobacter spp. colonization in birds provided chlorinated drinking water compared with control birds provided unsupplemented water. In isolation unit experiments, 86.3% (69/80) of the control and 85.0% (68/80) of the treated birds were colonized at 5.2 and 5.1 log cfu Campylobacter spp. / g of cecal contents, respectively. Also, two sets of paired 20,000 bird broiler houses, with and without chlorination (2-5 ppm chlorine), were monitored in a commercial field trial. Fecal droppings (960 samples) taken from the flocks in treated and control houses were analyzed for Campylobacter spp. Birds from control houses (no chlorine) were 35.5% (175/493) Campylobacter spp. positive while 45.8% (214/467) of samples from treated houses (chlorinated) yielded the organism. Chlorination of flock drinking water at the levels tested in this study was not effective in decreasing colonization by Campylobacter spp. under U.S. commercial production practices.