Monitoring of Campylobacter jejuni in a chicken infection model by measuring specific volatile organic compounds and by qPCR
Campylobacter is one of the leading bacterial foodborne pathogens worldwide. Poultry is the host species with this pathogen with the highest clinical impact. Flocks become colonised with Campylobacter, which leads to contamination of product entering the food-chain. Rapid and reliable Campylobacter detection methods could support controls to minimize the risks of contamination within the food-chain, which would easier enable the implementation of a logistical slaughter schedule or other control options. The present study evaluates current and emerging C. jejuni detection technologies on air samples in a unique study set-up of pre-defined C. jejuni prevalences. Both non-invasive detection technologies on air samples by subsequent measuring of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or by qPCR detected the C. jejuni presence and could additionally distinguish between the number of present C. jejuni-positive birds in the study set-up. Nevertheless, electrostatic air samplers diagnosed fewer birds as C. jejuni-positive compared to the cultivation-based method. By measuring the VOCs, it was possible to detect the presence of two positive birds in the room. This apparent high sensitivity still needs to be verified in field studies. Techniques, such as these promising methods, that can facilitate C. jejuni surveillance in poultry flocks are desirable to reduce the risk of infection for humans.