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Open Access Methodology article

An optimised recovery method for thermophilic Campylobacter from liver

John E Moore

Author Affiliations

Northern Ireland Public Health Laboratory, Department of Bacteriology, Belfast City Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT9 7AD, United Kingdom

Department of Food Science (Food Microbiology), The Queen's University of Belfast, Newforge Lane, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT9 5PX, United Kingdom

BMC Microbiology 2001, 1:32  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-1-32

Published: 30 November 2001



The past three decades have witnessed the rise of Campylobacter enteritis in man from virtual obscurity to notoriety, with present isolation rates superseding those of other enteric pathogens such as Salmonella spp. and Shigella spp. in most developed countries. Although campylobacters are not completely new to applied bacteriology, they have evaded traditional isolation techniques used for the isolation of pure cultures, apart from single isolations that were free from competing organisms. Offals, in particular liver have been decribed as both a source of campylobacters, as well as a route of transmission of this organism to human. Therefore, the aim of this study was to develop an optimum method for the recovery of Campylobacter spp. from porcine liver.


Four isolation techniques (methods A-D) were compared in a small pilot study for their ability to successfully recover campylobacters from freshly eviscerated porcine liver. The optimum isolation method involved direct swabbing of the liver tissues followed by plating onto Preston Selective medium, which was superior to methods involving mechanical disruption to liver tissues, including direct plating and enrichment methods, with and without blood. Consequently, any isolation method that involves disruption of liver tissue e.g. homogenisation or stomaching, is not suitable for the detection of campylobacters from liver and hence it is recommended that employment of a direct swabbing technique without mechanical disruption of tissues in combination with selective plating to optimally recover campylobacters from freshly eviscerated liver.


Employment of a direct swabbing technique in combination with selective plating allow Campylobacter spp. to be optimally recovered from freshly eviscerated liver and therefore this technique is recommended when examining liver for the presence of this organism.