Campylobacter jejuni infection versus contamination of turkeys and chickens

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


This study was conducted to determine the extent in which Campylobacter jejuni colonized live birds would survive evisceration and contaminate the processed carcasses. Birds were infected with a marker strain of Campylobacter jejuni and allowed to grow to market age. Cloacal and fecal samples were analyzed to determine the level of Campylobacter jejuni present in the live bird. Prior to slaughter, birds were selectively subjected to two different temperatures (21 and 32°C) and three different times of feed withdrawal for chickens (3, 6,and 9 hours and turkeys 0, 4, and 8 hours). Birds were then slaughtered and the carcasses were sampled to determine the level of Campylobacter jejuni that survived. Results indicated a difference between chickens and turkeys, especially regarding the infective dose and bacterial survival rates. No significant differences in carcass contamination due to feed withdrawal times at either temperature were noted. The correlation of fecal samples with cloacal samples was significant for year 2 with r = .53 (p .04). For turkeys, the correlations were not significant. A longitudinal study of turkeys showed that the percentage of birds infected with Campylobacter jejuni peaked when the birds were 5-7 weeks old. The amount of Campylobacter contamination in each turkey peaked when the birds were 5 weeks old and then dropped off quickly.