May 2006
Journal of Food Protection, Volume 69, Number 5 pp. 1024-1027(4)
Gharst, Greg; Hanson, Dana; Kathariou, S.
Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli are leading bacterial causes of human gastroenteritis in the United States and other industrialized nations. These organisms frequently colonize avian hosts, including commercial poultry, but are also found in the gastrointestinal tract of other warm-blooded animals, including swine, sheep, and cattle. This study investigated the effect of direct culture versus selective enrichment on the isolation of thermophilic Campylobacter from the colon of 610 cattle. Fecal samples were taken from the colon of mature cattle (older than 30 months of age) immediately after slaughter in a commercial abattoir over a period of 17 months. Campylobacter was isolated from 23.4% of the animals. Most (93%) of the culture-confirmed Campylobacter isolates were C. jejuni, with the remaining 7% being C. coli. Additionally, of the 143 samples from which pure cultures of Campylobacter could be isolated, 72 (50.3%) were positive only with selective enrichment, 18 (12.6%) were positive only with direct plating, and 53 (37.1%) were positive by both methods. The data suggest that, even though selective enrichment was more effective than direct plating, both direct plating and selective enrichment protocols might need to be employed for optimal surveillance of C. jejuni in fecal material from cattle.