Day-old, straight-run broiler chickens were procured from a hatchery located in the Pacific Northwest. The chickens were subdivided individually into nine groups of 20 chickens. The chickens were tagged, housed in isolation chambers on wire, fed commercial broiler feed, and given water ad libitum. Three isolates of Campylobacter jejuni of poultry origin and one of human origin were tested in this study. Various C. jejuni cultures were inoculated into 9-day-old chickens by crop gavage. Four groups of 20 chickens were inoculated at a dose level of 0.5 ml of 1 × 102 colony-forming units (CFU)/ml. The other four groups were inoculated with 0.5 ml of 1 × 104 CFU/ml. One group of 20 chickens was kept as an uninoculated control group. Four randomly selected chickens from each of the inoculated and uninoculated groups were necropsied at 5, 12, and 19 days postinoculation (DPI). The C. jejuni was cultured and enumerated from a composite of the upper and midintestine and the cecum. Body weights of all chicken groups at 7 days of age and at 5, 12, and 19 DPI were measured and statistically analyzed. No significant differences were present in the mean body weights (MBWs) of 7-day-old, 5 DPI, and 12 DPI male and female broiler chickens inoculated with C. jejuni at both dose levels compared with uninoculated controls. Differences in MBWs of the male and female broilers at 19 DPI were observed in some of the groups. Results of the C. jejuni culture enumeration mean (CEM) of composite intestine samples at 5 DPI from all inoculated chicken groups, irrespective of the dose level, ranged from (2.5 ± 5.0) × 102 to (2.8 ± 4.8) × 105 CFU/g (mean ± SD). Results of cecum C. jejuni CEM at 5 DPI inoculated at both dose levels ranged from (2.5 ± 5.0) × 106 to (1 ± 0.0) × 107 CFU/g in all treatment groups irrespective of the dose level. CEM results from the composite intestine samples at 12 and 19 DPI increased by 1 log unit, or sometimes more. Results of cecum C. jejuni CEM at 5 DPI inoculated at both dose levels ranged from (2.5 ± 5.0) × 106 to (1 ± 0.0) × 107 CFU/g in all treatment groups irrespective of the dose level. Increases of 2–5 log units in C. jejuni CEM was present in chicken groups inoculated with 1 × 102 CFU of C. jejuni, and a 2- to 3-log increase was present in groups inoculated with a higher dose level of C. jejuni at 12 DPI. The results of C. jejuni CEM from cecal samples at 19 DPI were similar to chicken groups at 12 DPI. Campylobacter jejuni was not isolated from the uninoculated control chickens at 5, 12, and 19 DPI. Clinical signs of illness or gross pathologic lesions were not present in any of the chicken groups during this study. No lesions were present on histopathologic evaluations in C. jejuni–inoculated chickens or uninoculated control chickens.
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Vol. 50 • No. 1