A multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was developed for the detection and speciation of 60 Campylobacter strains isolated from porcine rectal swabs and from different areas in a pork processing plant. The PCR assay was based on primers specific for the cadF gene of pathogenic Campylobacter species, a specific but undefined gene of Campylobacter jejuni, and the ceuE gene of Campylobacter coli. Further characterization of these isolates was established by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analyses with the restriction endonuclease SmaI. In addition to molecular discrimination, the antibiotic resistance profiles of the isolates were examined by the Kirby Bauer disc diffusion method with 22 antibiotics. Differentiation of isolates by multiplex PCR identified 86.9% (52 of 60) as C. coli and 13.1% (8 of 60) as C. jejuni. Using the Molecular Analyst software, 60 PFGE types were identified. The percentages of relatedness among C. jejuni strains with PFGE ranged from 25 to 86%, while those among C. coli strains ranged from 34 to 99%. Among the 60 PFGE types, each of 12 C. coli isolates showed ≥90% similarity to one other isolate. The antibiotic resistance profiles of all 60 isolates were distinct. Analyses of antibiotic resistance profiles showed that all isolates were resistant to five or more antibiotics. Twenty-five percent (2 of 8) of C. jejuni isolates and 15% (8 of 52) of C. coli isolates were resistant to at least one of the three fluoroquinolones tested, antibiotics that are commonly used in the treatment of human Campylobacter infections. Three percent (2 of 60) of Campylobacter isolates examined were resistant to all three fluoroquinolones. On the basis of the PFGE and antibiotic resistance profiles, each of the 60 isolates was distinct, suggesting that C. jejuni and C. coli strains originating from diverse sources were present in porcine samples and in the pork processing plant.

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Author notes

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Present address: Molecular Circuitry, Inc., 3400 Horizon Drive, King of Prussia, PA 19406, USA.