Comparative study of egg contamination with <i>Salmonella</i> Heidelberg and <i>Salmonella</i> Typhimurium
Keywords:Eggshell penetration, Poultry, Food safety, Public health, Microbial survival
Cases of salmonellosis in humans have been associated with consumption of eggs contaminated with this bacterial pathogen due to insufficient heat treatment. The most prevalent serotypes of Salmonella in Brazil include serotypes Enteritidis, Typhimurium, and Heidelberg. The first two serotypes are major causes for eggs to be withheld from sale and for recalls over Salmonella contamination concerns in both domestic and foreign markets. Eggs may be contaminated through transovarian infection (transovarial transmission) due to the presence of the microorganism in the hen’s oviduct and bacterial penetration of the eggshell. There is little data in the literature on the susceptibility of egg contamination and eggshell penetration by Brazilian serotypes of Salmonella. The present study aimed to evaluate the ability of S. Heidelberg and S. Typhimurium serotypes to penetrate through the eggshell and detect these bacteria in the albumen and yolk according to the thickness of the eggshell. SPF (specific-pathogen-free) eggs were artificially contaminated by contact with moist cotton containing Salmonella (15 x 108 CFU/ml). Eggs were divided into the following groups: negative control (not contaminated), S. Heidelberg, and S. Typhimurium. Subsequently, these eggs were incubated at 37°C, and their contents analyzed after 4 h and 24 h of incubation. The evaluation (assessment) of the contamination was performed by traditional bacteriology and confirmed by biochemical and serological tests. Treatments were compared with Fisher’s test using a SAS statistical software. For S. Heidelberg, the percentage of positivity (positive cases) was lower in both albumen and yolk at 4 h and 24 h intervals (33.33% and 3.7%, and 3.7% and 3.7%, respectively) compared to S. Typhimurium (26.63% and 7.41%, and 33.33% and 33.33%, respectively). These findings suggest that the former strain (S. Heidelberg) was unable to survive in the hostile environment of the albumen. In contrast, eggshell thickness had no significant correlation with the number of positive samples. In conclusion, the results obtained in the egg infection model show that the Salmonella strains tested were able to penetrate the eggshell and multiply in both the albumen and yolk and that S. Typhimurium proved to be the most efficient to grow within these portions of the egg.
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