In 2005-2008, 1152 samples (451 faecal samples, 451 carcass swabs and 250 tonsils) were collected from 451 finishing pigs slaughtered in three abattoirs of northern Italy. In two abattoirs, 34 scalding water samples were collected. The aim of this study was to investigate the faecal and palatine tonsil carriage rate of S. enterica and Y. enterocolitica in pigs at slaughter and the degree of carcass contamination by these bacteria. Typing of the isolates, virulence characterization and antimicrobial testing were also performed. S. enterica was isolated from 21.5% of the faecal samples, 10.9% of the carcasses and 10.4% of the tonsils, but not from scalding water. Nineteen different serovars were identified among 172 S. enterica isolates. The prevalent serovars were Derby (41.3%), Rissen (12.2%), Typhimurium (11%), 4,,12:i:– (8.7%) and Give (4.1%). S. enterica ser. Typhimurium and S. enterica ser. 4,,12:i:– isolates were phage-typed and PT DT120 was the most common (23.5%). Y. enterocolitica was detected in 17.1% of the faecal samples, 2.4% of the carcasses, 10.8% of the tonsils and 11.8% of the scalding water samples. A total of 119 isolates were found, four of them in water. Of the 115 Y. enterocolitica isolates of pig origin, 24 (20.9%) were 4/O:3 and 4 (3.5%) were 2/O:9. Y. enterocolitica 4/O:3 represented 85.7% of the pathogenic isolates found in all types of samples and 100% of those found in tonsils. In 4/O:3 isolates the most common virulence-associated gene were ystA (100%), inv (95.8%), ail (87.5%) and yadA (54.2%). In 2/O:9 isolates the prevalent genes were ail (100%), inv (100%) and ystA (100%), followed by ystB (25.0%). The majority (75.7%) of Y. enterocolitica isolates was biotype 1A, belonging to 13 serotypes (O:3; O:5; O:4,32-4,33; O:6,30-6,31; O:7,8-8; O:7,8-8-8,19; O:7,13; O:8; O:9; O:13; O:16-16,29; O:41,42-41,43; O:52). The most common virulence genes in 1A isolates were inv (95.4%) and ystB (72.4%). The antimicrobial resistance test showed that all Salmonella isolates were susceptible to cefotaxime, ciprofloxacin, cefalothin, gentamicin and enrofloxacin. Resistances to tetracycline (56%), sulphonamide compounds (42%) and streptomycin (34%) were the most common. All Y. enterocolitica isolates were susceptible to ciprofloxacin, ceftazidime, cefotaxime, chloramphenicol, enrofloxacin, gentamicin, kanamicin and neomycin. Most isolates were resistant to cefalothin (92%) and ampicillin (89%) Apparently, carcass contamination by S. enterica and Y. enterocolitica was more likely attributable to cross-contamination than to self-contamination, suggesting that good hygienic measures and slaughtering procedures can control transmission of these pathogens to pork meat.
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