Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/17/2020
Publication Date: 5/7/2020
Citation: Sylte, M.J., Shippy, D.C., Bearson, B.L., Bearson, S.M. 2020. Detection of Campylobacter jejuni liver dissemination in experimentally colonized turkey poults. Poultry Science. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psj.2020.03.042.
Interpretive Summary: Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni) remains the main bacterial foodborne pathogen in humans. Ingestion of contaminated poultry products is the most common route by which humans are infected, and food prepared containing Campylobacter contaminated chicken liver were identified as a source of human disease. Reducing the amount of Campylobacter in turkey products entering the human food supply may decrease the prevalence of human infection. It is unknown if turkey liver tissue is infected by C. jejuni after intestinal colonization. Turkeys were intestinally colonized with C. jejuni and liver was cultured for its presence. We identified the turkey liver as a reservoir of C. jejuni after intestinal colonization. Our results provide vital information to scientists and consumers regarding a food safety risk when turkey liver is prepared for human consumption.
Technical Abstract: Consumption of contaminated poultry products, including chicken livers, is the main source of human campylobacteriosis and approximately 90 percent of human cases are caused by Campylobacter jejuni subsp. jejuni (C. jejuni). Current culinary trends that favor undercooked chicken livers may be responsible for recent outbreaks. Turkey is an emerging protein source for humans and poultry livers are commonly prepared into courses such as pâté. We have previously demonstrated that different strains of C. jejuni persistently colonize turkeys with the highest density in the ceca. However, it is unknown whether C. jejuni disseminates to the liver of turkeys following intestinal colonization and if turkey livers represent a food safety concern. Forty-five day of hatch turkey poults were co-housed for 30 days and 5 poults were euthanized to screen for Campylobacter colonization. Poults were then split into two rooms (n equal 20 apiece). At 35 days of age, poults were inoculated by oral gavage with 1 times 106 colony forming units of C. jejuni isolate NCTC 11168 or mock-inoculated with sterile media. Ten poults from each room were euthanized at 7 and 14 days post-inoculation (dpi) and the cecal contents and livers were obtained for direct Campylobacter culture and enrichment. The ceca of C. jejuni gavaged poults were stably colonized at 7 and 14 dpi. At 7 and 14 dpi, 3/10 and 5/10 liver samples were C. jejuni positive (8.6 times 10 to the power of 3 cfu/g of liver plus/negative 4.43 times 10 to the power of 3 and 5.10 times 10 to the power of 3 cfu/g of liver plus/negative 1.74 times 10 to the power of 3), respectively. At 14 dpi, liver samples were enriched and 6/10 were positive, indicating that some liver samples may be lower than the limit of detection for direct plating. Campylobacter-specific qPCR was used to confirm recovered colonies. These data have identified the turkey liver as a reservoir of C. jejuni after colonization, an important food safety consideration when turkey liver is prepared for human consumption.