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A Monitoring, Control and Education Package to Assist the Turkey Industry with Reduction of Salmonella and Antimicrobial Resistance and Achieving EU Targets

Veterinary Laboratories Agency, UK
Start date
End date
Recent EU Zoonoses Legislation (Directive 2003/99, Regulation 2160/2003) sets out requirements for monitoring and control of zoonotic organisms, particularly Salmonella. In October 2006 a baseline survey to determine the prevalence and serotypes of Salmonella in turkey production across the EU (SANCO/2083/2006) will begin and VLA will be leading the testing and analysis of results for this work. The results of the survey will be used to set targets for reductions in the prevalence of Salmonella in turkey breeding and commercial flocks. It is also possible that there may be penalties imposed for failure to achieve targets and restrictions placed on the sale of turkey meat from infected flocks. Current monitoring of commercial turkey flocks prior to slaughter suggests that there is a significant prevalence of Salmonella and that multiple resistant strains of Salmonella Typhimurium are regularly identified. Although there is no clear evidence that turkey meat is a significant contributor to human Salmonella infection in the UK there is an urgent need to obtain up-to-date information on the epidemiology and control of Salmonella in turkey production. In addition to Salmonella concerns have been raised about the occurrence of Escherichia (E.) coli strains which are resistant to fluoroquinolone antimicrobials such as ciprofloxacin and the emergence in the USA and Canada, with which UK has some international trade in turkeys, of enteric organisms including Salmonella and E.coli which are resistant to third generation cephalosporin antibiotics such as ceftriaxone.

The work proposed in this project aims to rapidly gather information from turkey breeding and production. Initially by means of the EU baseline Salmonella survey which has already been largely arranged as a separate contract. Fortunately the samples taken for that survey can, by agreement with the flock owner, be used for isolation of antimicrobial (fluoroquinolone and third generation cephalosporin) resistant E.coli. This, together with the further characterisation of the isolates in terms of bacterial identity MIC and resistance mechanisms, and a risk factor analysis for occurrence of resistance, will be the first objective (01) of the project. This will be followed by a detailed status report on the British turkey industry together with a publication on Salmonella trends (02). Control of Salmonella depends on effective identification of its occurrence and Objective 03 provides a package of work designed to optimise and quantify the sensitivity of detection as well as achieving practical economies. It is necessary to carry out detailed investigations (04) of the occurrence of Salmonella in the complex network of turkey breeding and production to define where the problems are occurring and to identify `bad` practice which can be corrected and `best practice` which can be extended more widely. These investigations will also intercalate studies on the dynamics of resistant E.coli with and without fluoroquinolone treatment and will lead to the development of improved objective auditing procedures for control of Salmonella (05). In Objective 06 successful management methods which have been shown to control Salmonella will be applied to problem farms as trial interventions for both Salmonella and resistant E.coli, and for more difficult cases competitive exclusion and organic acid treatment will also be used (07). The costs and benefits of these control options will be assessed as part of an economic analysis (08) and finally the lessons learned from the totality of the research, and other relevant current sources, will be consolidated in an industry education package (09) which will include a roadshow campaign and a training DVD and e-mail information network. The project involves major players in Salmonella field research and consultancy and major turkey breeding and production integrations and their veterinary consultants to form a powerful project task-force. The package of objectives therefore fully supports industry and Defra priorities and public health interests and will provide the turkey industry with effective methods to meet and exceed future EU requirements.

  1. Assessment of fluoroquinolone resistance and third generation cephalosporin resistance in E.coli isolates from EU baseline survey
    This workpackage is designed to use samples from the EU baseline survey for Salmonella in turkeys to identify the prevalence of fluoroquinolone and cephalosporin resistant E.coli, to characterise representative isolates and to investigate risk factors for their occurrence.
  2. Status report on the structure of the turkey industry and Salmonella isolation trends
    The purpose of this workpackage is to provide a detailed up-to-date report on the UK turkey industry and its trading links, together with a scientific paper on Salmonella and surveillance trends in turkeys.
  3. Study of the sensitivity of sampling methods and sample pooling
    This workpackage is designed to provide definitive data on the limits of detection of currently used and optimal survey and routine monitoring samples to provide guidance to Defra, EU and Industry on future surveillance options for Salmonella.
  4. Longitudinal descriptive epidemiological studies of the distribution and persistence of Salmonella and antimicrobial resistant E.coli
    This workpackage will comprise a complex of longitudinal and traceback type investigational field studies aimed at identifying routes of dissemination and factors involved in persistence of Salmonella and antimicrobial resistant E.coli.
  5. Development of improved standard auditing procedures for factors relevant to Salmonella control on turkey farms
    This workpackage will develop and evaluate an auditing system for biosecurity measures, hygiene, cleaning and disinfection, pest control, quality of sampling, etc., in turkey production.
  6. Evaluation of improved management, biosecurity and hygiene-based control options for Salmonella on turkey farms
    This workpackage will evaluate currently available management and biosecurity control options for farms and hatcheries where Salmonella has persisted. Currently available disinfectants will also be evaluated in surface contamination models and farm trials.
  7. Application of competitive exclusion and organic acid treatments to commercial turkey farms which are persistently infected with Salmonella
    This workpackage will evaluate the use of non-antibiotic antimicrobial interventions for turkey farms which are persistently infected with Salmonella.
  8. Economic analysis of control options
    This workpackage will provide an economic analysis of the costs and potential benefits of improved Salmonella monitoring and control measures.
  9. Industry education package
    This final workpackage will aim to consolidate all information from this project, worldwide publications and expert opinions to produce an education package for the turkey industry. This will include instructional pamphlets and articles, a training DVD, as well as roadshows and in-house training for major turkey companies.
Funding Source
Dept. for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Project number
Bacterial Pathogens
Meat, Poultry, Game