European scientists have recently created a new method to detect the presence of Campylobacter bacteria in chickens. Currently, Campylobacter is tested for by testing chicken fecal droppings; however, this method of testing can take more than four days for test results. During this waiting period, chickens are often slaughtered and infected groups can infect other flocks through cross contamination. The new method will utilize air sampling detection by using a mini vacuum cleaner to collect samples and test them for traces of Campylobacter bacteria with test results available the same day. With results available the same day as testing, all flocks that are infected can be isolated from clean flocks to avoid cross contamination. The system capacity is based on the number of air samplers used, however, by even using only one air sampler, a farm with up to 16 sheds can be tested in one day. The newly developed air sampler costs approximately costs approximately € 2000, with additional costs of € 1 per filter, € 3 per sample for DNA purification, and € 6 for PCR testing. Meaning that once the air sampler machinery has been purchased, an entire chicken house of up to 50,000 chickens for the entire 6 weeks of a production cycle would cost € 10 for test results. Current testing for Campylobacter comparatively costs € 50 per sample and is not as time efficient, with results not available for over four days, versus air sampling with results available the same day as testing.
The air sampling device was created using collaboration between the following European laboratories: National Food Institute in Denmark, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise ‘Giuseppe Caporale’ in Italy, Veterinary Research Institute in the Czech Republic, National Veterinary Research Institute in Poland, and the Norwegian Veterinary Institute in Oslo. The scientists believe the air samplers could also test for traces of other common food borne illness causing bacteria in the future, such as Salmonella, and other diseases like avian influenza.
Campylobacter, the bacteria that causes the infection campylobacteriosis, is the leading source of bacterial diarrhea illnesses in the United States, according to the CDC. Symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea (often bloody), fever, and stomach cramps, often reported with nausea and vomiting. The majority of people with campylobacteriosis recover without antibiotic treatments, though those with lowered immune systems, such as the elderly, pregnant women, and people receiving chemotherapy, often require antibiotic treatment to avoid severe illnesses associated with campylobacteriosis. Campylobacteriosis can result in a bloodstream infection which can be life threatening if not treated.