Benefits of antibiotics in turkey semen

Tuesday, 09 August, 2005

The pathogen Campylobacter occurs naturally in turkeys' male and female reproductive tracts. To make things more complicated, it appears that artificial insemination procedures at turkey farms could expand the pathogen's prevalence. But another procedure used on the farm - placing antibiotics in turkey semen - could offer some hope for fighting Campylobacter there.

The US Department of Agriculture says Campylobacter can exist in the intestinal tracts of people and animals without causing any symptoms or illness. However, if people consume live bacteria in raw milk, contaminated water, or undercooked meat or poultry, they may acquire a Campylobacter infection (also called Campylobacteriosis). The illness symptoms include diarrhea, stomach pain and nausea.

Thorough cooking of poultry will eliminate the pathogen, but food safety researchers want to reduce or eliminate it at the source as much as possible.

On the turkey farms, artificial insemination is the means by which nearly all turkeys are produced. A male turkey's semen is used to inseminate multiple females. But the current concern is over the possibility that semen contaminated with Campylobacter could be spreading the pathogen to females and the next generations.

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