Research – Contamination of eggs by Salmonella Enteritidis in experimentally infected laying hens of four commercial genetic lines in conventional cages and enriched colony housing

Science Direct


Human illness caused by the consumption of eggs contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis is a continuing international public health concern. This pathogen is deposited inside the edible contents of eggs as a consequence of its ability to colonize reproductive tissues in infected hens. Conditions in the housing environment can influence the persistence and transmission of avian Salmonella infections, but the food safety ramifications of different poultry management systems are not entirely clear. The present study assessed the deposition of S. Enteritidis inside eggs laid by groups of experimentally infected laying hens of 4 commercial genetic lines (designated as white egg lines W1 and W2 and brown egg lines B1 and B2). Groups of hens from each line were housed at 555 cm2 of floor space per bird in both conventional cages and colony units enriched with access to perches and nesting areas. All hens were orally inoculated with 5.75 × 107 cfu of a 2-strain S. Enteritidis mixture, and the internal contents of eggs laid 5 to 24 D post-inoculation were cultured to detect the pathogen. No significant differences in egg contamination frequencies were found between the 2 housing systems for any of the hen lines. Contaminated eggs were laid between 7 and 21 D post-inoculation at an overall frequency of 2.47%, ranging from 0.25 to 4.38% for the 4 hen lines. The frequency of S. Enteritidis recovery from egg samples was significantly (P < 0.05) lower for line B2 than for any of the other lines, and the egg contamination frequency for line W1 was significantly greater than for line W2. The overall incidence of contamination among white eggs (3.38%) was significantly higher than among brown eggs (1.56%). These results demonstrate that S. Enteritidis deposition inside eggs can vary between genetic lines of infected laying hens, but housing these hens in 2 different systems did not affect the production of contaminated eggs.

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