Poultry feed is a leading source of Salmonella infection in poultry. In Switzerland, heat-treated feed is used to reduce Salmonella incursions into flocks in conventional poultry production. By contrast, organic feed is only treated with organic acids. In 2019, the Swiss National Reference Center for Enteropathogenic Bacteria identified the rare serovar S. Jerusalem from samples of organic soya feed. Further, in July 2020, the European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed published a notification of the detection of S. Jerusalem in soya expeller from Italy. During 2020, seven S. Jerusalem isolates from seven different poultry productions distributed over six cantons in Switzerland were reported, providing further evidence of a possible outbreak. Using whole-genome sequencing (WGS), S. Jerusalem isolates from feed and from animals in Switzerland were further characterized and compared to S. Jerusalem from organic poultry farm environments in Italy. WGS results showed that feed isolates and isolates from Swiss and Italian poultry flocks belonged to the sequence type (ST)1028, grouped in a very tight cluster, and were closely related. This outbreak highlights the risk of spreading Salmonella by feed and emphasizes the need for a heat-treatment process for feed, also in organic poultry production.
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