The prevalence was determined of Campylobacter jejuni and C. coli on three age classes (lamb, hogget and mutton) of ovine carcass trim post-dressing and pre-chill. Sampling of hogget carcasses was undertaken six months before sampling of lamb and mutton carcasses. A total of 120 trim samples was collected from 11 processing plants across New Zealand (NZ). All samples were enriched and screened using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the presence of C. jejuni and C. coli and isolation was attempted for all screen-positive samples. Enumeration of Campylobacter from lamb trim samples showed that Campylobacter were present in very low numbers (<10 colony forming units per g). The overall prevalence of Campylobacter for ovine trim based on PCR-detection was 33% (39 out of 120 samples) with prevalences for hogget, lamb and mutton carcass trim of 56% (28 out of 50), 11% (4 out of 35) and 20% (7 out of 35), respectively. Whole genome sequencing was performed on a selection of C. jejuni and C. coli isolates and the data were used to sub-type using multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) and whole-genome MLST. Twenty-five MLST sequence types (STs) were identified among 44 isolates, including ST42, ST50, ST3222 and ST3072, which have been previously reported to be associated with ruminant sources. Four novel STs were also identified. Whole-genome MLST analysis further discriminated isolates within a single ST type and demonstrated a genetic diversity among the ovine isolates collected. Genes associated with the oxacillinase class of β-lactamase enzymes were identified in 41 out of 44 Campylobacter isolates. This study provides data that can be incorporated into source attribution models that currently exist to assist in determining the potential contribution of ovine sources to the burden of campylobacteriosis in NZ.

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