Research: The characterization of Salmonella enterica serotypes isolated from the scalder tank water of a commercial poultry processing plant: Recovery of a multidrug-resistant Heidelberg strain.

Apr 12 2018

The recent multistate outbreak of a multidrug-resistant (MDR) Salmonella Heidelberg strain from commercial poultry production highlights the need to better understand the reservoirs of these zoonotic pathogens within the commercial poultry production and processing environment.


As part of a larger study looking at temporal changes in microbial communities within the major water tanks within a commercial processing facility, this paper identifies and characterizes Salmonella enterica isolated from the water in a final scalder tank at 3 times during a typical processing day: prior to the birds entering the tank (start), halfway through the processing day (mid), and after the final birds were scalded (end).


Over 3 consecutive processing days, no Salmonella were recovered from start-of-day water samples, while a total of 56 Salmonella isolates were recovered from the mid-day and end-of-day scalder water samples. Traditional and newer PCR-based serotyping methods eventually identified these isolates as either group C3 S. Kentucky (n = 45) and group B S. Heidelberg (n = 11). While none of the S. Kentucky isolates possessed any resistances to the antimicrobials tested, all S. Heidelberg isolates were found to be multidrug resistant to 5 specific antimicrobials representing 3 antimicrobial classes. Due to the potential public health impact of S. Heidelberg and the recent nationwide poultry-associated outbreak of multidrug-resistant S. Heidelberg, future studies should focus on understanding the transmission and environmental growth dynamics of this serotype within the commercial poultry processing plant environment.