We previously reported the recovery of Campylobacter (naturally colonized) from the ductus deferens of 5 of 101 broiler breeder roosters, and four of those five positive roosters had previously produced Campylobacter-positive semen samples. Those results prompted further evaluation to determine if inoculation route influenced the prevalence or level of Campylobacter contamination of semen, the digestive tract, or reproductive organs. Individually caged roosters, confirmed to be feces and semen negative for Campylobacter, were challenged with a marker strain of Campylobacter jejuni either orally using 1.0 ml of a diluted cell suspension (log104.3 to 6.0 cells), by dropping 0.1 ml of suspension (log105.3 to 7.0 cells) on the everted phallus immediately after semen collection or by dip coating an ultrasound probe in the diluted cell suspension (log104.3 to 6.0 cells) and then inserting the probe through the vent into the colon. Six days postinoculation, individual feces and semen samples were again collected and cultured for Campylobacter. Seven days postinoculation, roosters were killed, the abdomen aseptically opened to expose the viscera, and one cecum, one testis, and both ductus deferens were collected. The samples were then suspended 1 : 3 (weight/volume) in Bolton enrichment broth for the culture of Campylobacter. Samples were also directly plated onto Cefex agar to enumerate Campylobacter. Campylobacter was recovered 6 days after challenge from feces in 82% of samples (log104.1 colony-forming units [CFU]/g sample), 85% of semen samples (log102.9 CFU/ml), and on the seventh day postchallenge from 88% of cecal samples (log105.8 CFU/g sample). Campylobacter was not directly isolated from any testis sample but was detected following enrichment from 9% (3/33) of ductus deferens samples. Roosters challenged with Campylobacter orally, on the phallus, or by insertion of a Campylobacter dip-coated ultrasound probe were all readily colonized in the ceca and produced Campylobacter-positive semen and feces on day 6 after challenge. The low prevalence of recovery of Campylobacter from the ductus deferens samples and failure to recover from any testis sample suggests that semen may become Campylobacter positive while traversing the cloaca upon the everted phallus. The production of Campylobacter-positive semen could provide a route in addition to fecal–oral for the horizontal transmission of Campylobacter from the rooster to the reproductive tract of the hen.
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Vol. 49 • No. 4