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ARS Home » Plains Area » College Station, Texas » Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center » Food and Feed Safety Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #267187

Title: Clostridium difficile in poultry and poultry meat

item Harvey, Roger
item NORMAN, KERI - Texas A&M University
item Andrews, Kathleen - Kate
item Hume, Michael
item SCANLAN, CHARLES - Texas A&M University
item Callaway, Todd
item Anderson, Robin
item Nisbet, David

Submitted to: Foodborne Pathogens and Disease
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/21/2011
Publication Date: 12/5/2011
Citation: Harvey, R.B., Norman, K.N., Andrews, K., Hume, M.E., Scanlan, C.M., Callaway, T.R., Anderson, R.C., Nisbet, D.J. 2011. Clostridium difficile in poultry and poultry meat. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. 8:1321-1323.

Interpretive Summary: Clostridium difficile (Cd) is a bacterium that causes disease and death in humans, and historically the infection was acquired during hospital stays. Recently, more virulent strains that are community-acquired have emerged. Although the origin of the new strains is unknown, some speculate they are food-associated. In the present study, we sampled chicken feces and poultry meat to determine the prevalence of Cd and detected low levels of Cd from poultry (2.3%) and poultry meat (12.5%). Although not conclusive, these findings are important because they suggest that it is unlikely that these new Cd infections are from commercial poultry.

Technical Abstract: The incidence and severity of disease associated with toxigenic Clostridium difficile have increased in hospitals in North America from the emergence of newer, more virulent strains. Toxigenic C. difficile has been isolated from food animals and retail meat with potential implications of transfer to human beings. The objective of the present study was to determine the prevalence of C. difficile from broiler and layer chickens and retail poultry meat in Texas. Seven C. difficile isolates were detected in fecal samples of 300 (2.3%) 42-day-old broiler chickens but not in feces from 28-day-old broilers or 70-week-old laying hens. Using 3 cultivation procedures, 7 C. difficile isolates were detected from 96 (7.3%) retail poultry meat samples. One procedure detected 4 isolates from 32 samples (12.5%). Poultry and poultry meat isolates were positive for toxins A, B, and binary toxin and were characterized as toxinotype V, PFGE type-NAP7, or “NAP7-variant”. Susceptibilities to 11 antimicrobial agents in the current study generally were similar to those reported previously for toxinotype V isolates, although the results, particularly the poultry fecal isolates, suggested somewhat reduced resistance than reported for other meat or animal toxinotype V isolates.