Addressing the predisposing factors that allow Campylobacter to flourish can offer broiler producers an additional strategy to improve poultry’s food safety profile.
Campylobacter has proved more difficult to control than other food borne pathogens leading to gastroenteritis and there is evidence to suggest that campylobacteriosis is on the rise. Given the difficulties in directly reducing Campylobacter incidence, limiting predisposing factors, such as mycotoxins, can form part of a Campylobacter control strategy.
Mycotoxins’ impact on the gut
Mycotoxins act as a predisposing factor due to their ability make the chicken’s immune system more vulnerable, potentially leading to secondary infections and decreasing overall flock health.
Deoxynivalenol (DON) is particularly correlated with this issue since it can have dramatic effects on the poultry gut and immune system. The disruption of intestinal integrity may lead to an increased likelihood of pathogenic bacteria entering the bloodstream and, consequently, increased susceptibility to disease. According to the latest Biomin® Mycotoxin Survey, in 2020, DON was the most widespread tricholthecene mycotoxin in feed.
It is well-documented that DON can negatively impact common problems in animal production, such as increasing Salmonella typhimurium issues and facilitating the entrance of pathogenic Escherichia coli strains into the bloodstream in pigs, also predisposing broilers to necrotic enteritis.
Recent studies have also strengthened the hypothesis that DON can also influence the infection profile of Campylobacter jejuni in broilers. The co-exposure of DON in poultry feed and C. jejuni showed a considerably increased presence of pathogen loads in the gut as well as an increase in gut permeability.
The study found that the co-exposure by C. jejuni or DON challenge negatively impacted the gut barrier function, reflecting impairment of the digestive and immune functions. Additionally, the synergistic effect between DON and C. jejuni was also found to enhance C. jejuni colonization of the broiler gut, as DON destroys the gut structure, providing favorable conditions for Campylobacter growth.
Three strategies are considered effective in mitigating the risk of mycotoxins on animals’ immune status:
Binding adsorbable mycotoxins, such as aflatoxins, in the gastrointestinal tract
The irreversible degradation of non-adsorbable mycotoxins (including DON, zearalenone and fumonisins) into non-toxic compounds
Supporting the functionality of the liver and gut, which are the main organs affected by mycotoxins Establishing a strategic plan to correctly identify and counteract mycotoxins, specifically DON, can be key in reducing Campylobacter risk and improving the food safety profile of poultry meat.