Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/8/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Arcobacter spp. are a new group of bacteria. They resemble and are closely related to Campylobacter jejuni, which is a major cause of human foodborne illness. Arcobacter butzleri is found in retail purchased poultry and has also been associated with human illness. This study describes field surveys to determine the distribution of Arcobacter and A. butzleri in live echickens. Acrobacter was present in 15% and A. butzleri in 1% of birds (n=400). Studies were also conducted to determine if chicks and turkey poults are susceptible to experimental infection with A. butzleri. Of the three types of birds tested, the highly inbred Small Beltsville White turkey was the most susceptible to infection. Information gained from this study will benefit action agencies, such as FSIS, APHIS, and FDA, to assess risks for animal or human disease caused by Arcobacter.
Technical Abstract: Arcobacter butzleri causes human enteritis and is frequently recovered from poultry carcasses, although the source of poultry contamination is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine (i) the natural distribution of butzleri in birds and (ii) its relative pathogenicity in experimentally infected poultry. Overall, Arcobacter spp. were recovered from 15% of 400 birds sampled. A. butzleri was identified in 1% of these cloacal samples. Three experimental trials were conducted to determine the susceptibility of birds. In Trial I, three-day old chicks (n=62) were divided into three groups and infected per os with (i) A. butzleri ATCC 49616, (ii) a suspension of four field strains of A. butzleri isolated from retail purchased chicken, and (iii) C. jejuni (positive control). Arcobacter was not detected in cloacal swabs or in caecal samples of chicks through day five post infection. In Trial II, five-day old outbred turkey poults (n=88) were infected as described above with the addition of a group infected with a suspension of four field strains of A. butzleri from turkey meat. A. butzleri was recovered from either cloacal swabs or caecal contents of only 6.0% (four of 67) of turkeys. In contrast, in trials I and II C. jejuni was recovered from 100% of the positive control birds. In Trial III, three-day old turkey poults of the highly inbred Beltsville White strain (n=141) were experimentally inoculated. In contrast to earlier trials, A. butzleri was recovered overall from the cloacal swabs or tissues of 65% of the turkeys. In summary, (i) birds are naturally infected with Arcobacter and, to a lesser extent, with A. butzleri and (ii) the Beltsville White turkey is a suitable model for studying the pathogenicity of this newly described potential human foodborne pathogen.