Research – Research Note: Contamination of eggs by Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium in experimentally infected laying hens in indoor cage-free housing

NCBI

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Contaminated eggs are a leading source of human Salmonella infections and this problem continues to challenge public health authorities and egg industries around the world. Salmonella invasion of the ovaries and oviducts of infected laying hens can result in bacterial deposition inside the edible portions of developing eggs. The introduction, persistence, and transmission of salmonellae in commercial egg-laying flocks are influenced by flock management practices, but the food safety ramifications of different types of laying hen housing remain unresolved. The present study assessed the frequency of internal contamination of eggs after experimental Salmonella Enteritidis and S. Typhimurium infection of laying hens in indoor cage-free housing. Groups of 72 hens were housed on wood shavings in isolation rooms simulating commercial cage-free barns with community kick-out nest boxes and perches and 1/3 of the hens in each room were orally inoculated with 8.0 × 107 cfu of 2-strain mixtures of either S. Enteritidis (2 rooms) or S. Typhimurium (2 rooms), and the entire internal contents of all eggs laid 5 to 30 d postinoculation in nest boxes or on the flooring substrate were cultured to detect Salmonella. Contaminated eggs were laid between 8 and 28 d postinoculation. The overall incidence of S. Enteritidis isolation from eggs (3.41%) was significantly (P = 0.0005) greater than S. Typhimurium (1.19%). The contamination frequencies associated with the 2 egg collection locations were not significantly different (P > 0.05). These results demonstrate that oral infection of a relatively small proportion of laying hens in indoor cage-free housing with invasive Salmonella serovars can result in the production of internally contaminated eggs at low frequencies over a period of nearly a month postinoculation.

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