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Prevalence and Genetic Analysis of Salmonella enterica from a Cross-Sectional Survey of the New Zealand Egg Production Environment.

Abstract

Epidemiological evidence suggests that Salmonella on New Zealand eggs is not an important pathway for human salmonellosis. However, robust nationally representative data for Salmonella contamination of eggs is not available to support this. To better understand the exposure of New Zealand commercial eggs to Salmonella, a cross-sectional survey collected data on prevalence and serotypes of Salmonella in the feed, laying sheds (feces, dust, and boot or manure belt swabs), and packhouses (egg contact surfaces) of New Zealand commercial egg layer farms. Salmonella was not detected on 16 of 28 surveyed farms, and 4 farms had only one positive sample. Of the 43 (13.3%) of 323 Salmonella-positive samples, dust samples had the highest prevalence (19 of 67, 28.4%), followed by boot or manure belt swabs (11 of 67, 16.4%), feces (7 of 67, 10.4%), packhouse egg contact surfaces (5 of 87, 5.7%), and feed (1 of 33, 3.0%). A significantly higher prevalence was from caged (33 of 75, 44.0%; P < 0.001) compared with cage-free (4 of 126, 3.2%) systems, yet multiple practices differ between laying systems, which could influence prevalence. Salmonella-positive packhouse samples were only identified on the three farms with the highest laying shed prevalence, and isolates were genetically related (as determined by single nucleotide polymorphism analyses) suggesting cross-contamination between the laying shed and packhouse surfaces. Serotypes isolated included Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Thompson, Salmonella Typhimurium, Salmonella Anatum, and Salmonella Mbandaka. Importantly, Salmonella Enteritidis, which causes egg-associated outbreaks internationally, was not isolated. Genomic comparisons of isolates supported the presence of a common contamination source in the shed and farm environments rather than multiple sporadic contamination events. This survey establishes a benchmark of Salmonella prevalence and types in the New Zealand egg production environment and provides a reference point for assessing the impact of changes to practices on Salmonella prevalence.

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