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Comparison of Real-Time PCR Assays for Detection, Quantification, and Differentiation of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli in Broiler Neck Skin Samples

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We tested the use of multiplex real-time PCR for detection and quantification of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli on broiler carcass neck skin samples collected during 2008 from slaughterhouses in Switzerland. Results from an established TaqMan assay based on two different targets (hipO and ceuE for C. jejuni and C. coli, respectively) were corroborated with data from a newly developed assay based on a single-nucleotide polymorphism in the fusA gene, which allows differentiation between C. jejuni and C. coli. Both multiplex real-time PCRs were applied simultaneously for direct detection, differentiation, and quantification of Campylobacter from 351 neck skin samples and compared with culture methods. There was good correlation in detection and enumeration between real-time PCR results and quantitative culture, with real-time PCR being more sensitive. Overall, 251 (71.5%) of the samples were PCR positive for Campylobacter, with 211 (60.1%) in the hipO–ceuE assays, 244 (69.5%) in the fusA assay, and 204 (58.1%) of them being positive in both PCR assays. Thus, the fusA assay was similarly sensitive to the enrichment culture (72.4% positive); however, it is faster and allows for quantification. In addition, real-time PCR allowed for species differentiation; roughly 60% of positive samples contained C. jejuni, less than 10% C. coli, and more than 30% contained both species. Real-time PCR proved to be a suitable method for direct detection, quantification, and differentiation of Campylobacter from carcasses, and could permit time-efficient surveillance of these zoonotic agents.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Veterinary Bacteriology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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