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Prevalence of Thermophilic Campylobacter species in carcasses from sheep and goats in an abattoir in Debre Zeit area, Ethiopia

T Woldemariam
D Asrat
G Zewde


Background: Thermophilic Campylobacter spp. namely, Campylobacter jejuni and coli cause acute diarrheal diseases in humans worldwide; although these species are known to occur in the intestinal tract of a wide variety of domestic and wild animals. Objective: Little is known about the presence of these bacteria in various food animals as possible sources of infection to humans in Ethiopia. Therefore this study was undertaken to determine the prevalence of thermophilic Campylobacter species in sheep and goat carcasses at a private export abattoir in Debre-Zeit, Ethiopia.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted on apparently healthy sheep and goat slaughtered at a private export abattoir in Debre-Zeit, from October 2007 to March 2008. Sheep carcasses (mutton) (n=218) and goat carcasses (n=180) were analyzed for Campylobacter spp. Swabs were taken from four different sites on the carcasses (crutch, abdomen, thorax and breast) at different stages of slaughtering processes (before evisceration, after evisceration and after washing). Results: Campylobacter spp were isolated from 40 (10.1%) out of 398 carcasses examined. There was no statistically significant difference in the rate of isolation of Campylobacter species in different swabbing sites. Of the 40 thermophilic campylobacter isolates, C. jejuni and C. coli accounted for 29 (72.5%) and 11 (27.5%), respectively. Conclusions: The results of this study revealed the presence of campylobacter in sheep and goat carcasses, indicating
possible risks of infection to people through the consumption of raw/under-cooked meat. Coordinated actions are needed to reduce or eliminate the risks posed by this organism at various stages of slaughtering process.

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eISSN: 1021-6790