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Characterization of Campylobacter Isolates Recovered from Clinically Healthy Pigs and from Sporadic Cases of Campylobacteriosis in Humans

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Campylobacter spp. were recovered from 660 (77.6%) of 850 swine cecal contents at the abattoir and from 24 (8.6%) of 278 specimens from sporadic cases of human diarrhea during the same period in the same geographical area. Campylobacter coli represented 95.7% of Campylobacter isolates recovered from pigs and 8.3% of those isolated from humans. Genetic profiles were determined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) using KpnI enzyme to characterize the isolates in combination with phenotypic assays to detect production of cytotoxins, enterotoxins, and hemolysins. Among a subset of isolates (n = 10), up to five colonies from the same animal were characterized by PFGE. In 5 (50%) of 10 of the isolates, more than one genetic profile was observed per pig. Among the 100 isolates from pigs selected for further analysis, 81 different genetic profiles were observed, whereas 20 different genetic profiles were found among the 24 isolates of human origin. Cytotoxicity on Chinese hamster ovary cells was observed in 11 (11%) of 98 isolates from pigs and in 5 (21%) of 24 Campylobacter isolates from humans. No enterotoxin production was detected in Campylobacter isolates in this study, but 17 (71%) of 24 human and 61 (63%) of 97 pig isolates showed hemolytic activity. The study of genotypic and phenotypic profiles of swine and human isolates revealed no epidemiological relationship between isolates. The low genomic relatedness observed between groups of isolates and the weak toxicity level of swine isolates suggest that the hazard of contamination of humans by Campylobacter associated with swine production is low.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Universitéde Montréal, C.P. 5000, St-Hyacinthe, Québec, Canada J2S 7C6 2: Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Universitéde Montréal, C.P. 5000, St-Hyacinthe, Québec, Canada J2S 7C6

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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