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Estimation of the sensitivity of various environmental sampling methods for detection of Salmonella in duck flocks

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Reports of Salmonella in ducks in the UK currently rely upon voluntary submissions from the industry, and as there is no harmonized statutory monitoring and control programme, it is difficult to compare data from different years in order to evaluate any trends in Salmonella prevalence in relation to sampling methodology. Therefore, the aim of this project was to assess the sensitivity of a selection of environmental sampling methods, including the sampling of faeces, dust and water troughs or bowls for the detection of Salmonella in duck flocks, and a range of sampling methods were applied to 67 duck flocks. Bayesian methods in the absence of a gold standard were used to provide estimates of the sensitivity of each of the sampling methods relative to the within-flock prevalence. There was a large influence of the within-flock prevalence on the sensitivity of all sample types, with sensitivity reducing as the within-flock prevalence reduced. Boot swabs (individual and pool of four), swabs of faecally contaminated areas and whole house hand-held fabric swabs showed the overall highest sensitivity for low-prevalence flocks and are recommended for use to detect Salmonella in duck flocks. The sample type with the highest proportion positive was a pool of four hair nets used as boot swabs, but this was not the most sensitive sample for low-prevalence flocks. All the environmental sampling types (faeces swabs, litter pinches, drag swabs, water trough samples and dust) had higher sensitivity than individual faeces sampling. None of the methods consistently identified all the positive flocks, and at least 10 samples would be required for even the most sensitive method (pool of four boot swabs) to detect a 5% prevalence. The sampling of dust had a low sensitivity and is not recommended for ducks.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Animal and Plant Health Agency, The Elms, Loughborough, LE12 5RB, UK 2: Department of Bacteriology and Food Safety, Animal and Plant Health Agency, Surrey, KT15 3NB, UK

Publication date: November 2, 2015

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