Campylobacter and Salmonella are known to cause acute bacterial gastroenteritis in humans. Raw poultry products have been implicated as a significant source of these infections. Five trials were conducted to determine whether Campylobacter and Salmonella spp. exist naturally in the mature and immature ovarian follicles of late-life broiler breeder hens. Broiler breeder hens ranging from 60 to 66 wk of age were obtained from four different commercial breeder operations. For each trial, the hens were removed from the commercial operation and held overnight at the University of Georgia processing facility. The hens were euthanized, defeathered, and aseptically opened. To reduce the possibility of cross-contamination between samples, first the mature and immature ovarian follicles, then the ceca, were aseptically removed. Individual samples were placed in sterile bags, packed on ice, and transported to the laboratory for evaluation. Overall, Campylobacter was found in 7 of 55 immature follicles, 12 of 47 mature follicles, and 41 of 55 ceca. Campylobacter was found in at least one of each sample of mature follicles and in ceca in each of the five trials. Salmonella was found in 0 of 55 immature follicles, 1 of 47 mature follicles, and 8 of 55 ceca. In this study, the recovery rate of Salmonella from late-life broiler breeder hen ovarian follicles was relatively low. However, the recovery rate of Campylobacter from the hen ovarian follicles was reasonably high, suggesting that these breeder hens could be infecting fertile hatching eggs. Determining how Campylobacter contaminated these ovarian follicles and how many chicks could be colonized from this source are the next steps in helping to elucidate a better understanding of this ecology and the control of Campylobacter in poultry production.
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Vol. 49 • No. 2