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Campylobacter and Arcobacter species in food-producing animals: prevalence at primary production and during slaughter

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The Campylobacter and Arcobacter genera encompass closely related species that are ubiquitous in nature and are harboured in the gastrointestinal tract of many animals, including food-producing animals (cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry). In humans Campylobacter spp. is the cause of most of the gastroenteritis cases worldwide and in more severe cases the infection can result in Guillian Barré syndrome. Similarly, Arcobacter species can cause gastroenteritis as well as bacteraemia. Infections in humans can be induced by the consumption of contaminated vegetables, meat, milk and water. However, food originating from animals, especially meat, has been recognised as a source of infection, in fact, poultry meat and meat products have been globally reported as the main source of infection. It is clear that food-producing animals are important reservoirs for Campylobacter and Arcobacter species, which implies successful colonisation of the gastrointestinal tract at primary production and contamination during the slaughter process. During slaughter the evisceration step has been recognised as the most likely point of contamination, as accidental spillage of intestinal fluid and rapture of gastrointestinal tract can occur. Therefore, improper hygienic practices can ultimately allow for the contamination of finished/retail products intended for human consumption. This literature review will seek to explore the infection of food-producing animals with Campylobacter and Arcobacter species at primary production and contamination during the slaughter of food-producing animals.

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This work is based on the research supported by the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) and partly funded by the South African Department of Science and Technology (UID Number: 84633), as administered by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa and partly by the Department of Trade and Industry’s THRIP program (THRIP/64/19/04/2017) with Stellenbosch University as partner. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are that of the author(s) and the National Research Foundation does not accept any liability in this regard.

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Correspondence to Pieter Gouws.

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Shange, N., Gouws, P. & Hoffman, L.C. Campylobacter and Arcobacter species in food-producing animals: prevalence at primary production and during slaughter. World J Microbiol Biotechnol 35, 146 (2019).

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