Detection of pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica in slaughtered pigs by cultural methods and real-time polymerase chain reaction

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Rina Mazzette *
Federica Fois
Simonetta Gianna Consolati
Sara Salza
Tiziana Tedde
Paolo Soro
Carlo Collu
Daniela Ladu
Sebastiano Virgilio
Francesca Piras
(*) Corresponding Author:
Rina Mazzette |


Healthy pigs carrying pathogenic to human Yersinia enterocolitica strains are the main source of entry into slaughterhouse, where cross-contamination of carcasses can happen. The aim of this work was to determine Y. enterocolitica prevalence in slaughtered pigs, investigating the presence of carriers in relation to carcass contamination. A total of 132 pig samples (tonsils, mesenteric lymph nodes, colon content, carcass surface) were collected from 4 Sardinian slaughterhouses. All the samples were examined by the ISO 10273:2003 method, and the prevalence was also determined by direct plating on CIN Agar. Moreover, to detect the ail positive Y. enterocolitica strains in enrichment broths and isolates a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was applied. Y. enterocolitica prevalence was 19% with direct plating and 12% with enrichment methods. Carcass surfaces and tonsils prevalence was 5.30% by direct plating, and 5.3% and 2.2%, respectively, by enrichment method. Tonsil samples showed an average contamination level of 3.2×103 CFU/g, while the mean value on carcass was 8.7×102 CFU/g. An overall prevalence of 9.8% of ail positive Y. enterocolitica broths was detected by RT-PCR, that found a higher prevalence in tonsils (7.5%) with respect to cultural methods, confirming the greater sensitivity of this technique when applied for tonsils and faeces samples. The results show a relatively low pathogenic Y. enterocolitica prevalence in pigs slaughtered in Sardinia. Good hygiene measures should be applied at slaughterhouse in order to prevent the entry of carriers and control carcass contamination.

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