Aims: To investigate the occurrence of Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae and other Erysipelothrix spp. in abattoir and meat samples in Western Australia.
Methods and Results: Samples were collected from various parts of pig and sheep carcasses, as well as different sections of slaughtering line, pen soil and effluent. Previously evaluated culture methods were applied for the isolation of Erysipelothrix spp., in conjunction with phenotypic and genotypic detection and identification procedures. Of 109 samples from the two abattoirs, 35 (32·1%) were Erysipelothrix genus-specific PCR-positive. These came from swabs of animal exterior surfaces and joints, slaughtering areas, pig pen soil and abattoir effluent. Four samples (3·7%) from sheep arthritic joints and pig abattoir effluent were also E. rhusiopathiae species-specific PCR-positive. Of 123 carcass washing samples, 12 (9·8%) were genus-specific PCR-positive, and these came from all five kinds of meat samples tested, including beef, lamb, mutton, pork and chicken. Four of them (3·3%) were also species-specific PCR-positive. A total of 25 isolates was recovered from the samples, of which seven were identified as E. rhusiopathiae, seven were consistent with E. tonsillarum, and the remaining 11 were other species of Erysipelothrix.
Conclusions:Erysipelothrix spp. can still be isolated and identified from specimens of animal origin with relative ease, provided that appropriate cultural and molecular procedures are used. Clinical microbiology laboratories may need to improve their diagnostic protocols.
Significance and Impact of the Study: This study confirms that E. rhusiopathiae and other species of Erysipelothrix continue to colonize and contaminate farmed animals and animal products. Erysipelothrix infection still poses a potential threat to the economy of the farmed animal industry, as well as being a potential human public health hazard.