Heat treatment of persistently Salmonella infected poultry houses



Danish Veterinary Institute, Department for Poultry, Fish and Fur bearing Animals, Århus,




A combined moist heat and formalin disinfection has been performed in Danish poultry houses for years, but without much documentation for its effectiveness against persistent Salmonella infections. It might be a useful method for eliminating Salmonella in empty poultry houses, especially in houses with equipment that is difficult to cleanse. Therefore, laboratory and field heat experiments were performed in order to find a temperature-humidity-time combination that would kill Salmonella and other bacteria. In the laboratory experiments an Escherichia coli field strain and Salmonella commonly found in the Danish table egg sector were used. The following factors (outcomes) were used in the studies that should simulate worst case scenarios encountered in empty poultry houses: Organic matter (faeces/feed), desiccation prior to the heating (yes/no), Salmonella serovar (S. Enteritidis, PT8, S. Typhimurium, DT110, S. Infantis), humidity during heating (100%, lower), final heating temperature (50, 55, 60, 65, 70 oC). All final heating temperatures were achieved by a 1 oC increase per hour in order to let the bacteria adapt to the heat, e.g. by generating heat stress proteins. The following outcomes increased the heat resistance: Feed instead of faeces, desiccation prior to heating in faecal samples, lower humidity during heating, lower final temperature. No Salmonella was detected in samples taken after 24 hours of heating at 60 oC and 100% RH. This temperature-humidity-time combination was used as the desired standard in field studies. So far, field studies have been performed on two farms (Farm A and B). Farm A had one barn house and one battery cage house, both of which were persistently Salmonella infected and were heat-treated with hot steam. Within 10 and 45 minutes 100% RH and 60 oC, respectively, was achieved ca. 2 meter above floor level, while temperatures at floor level were in the range 47-62 oC. All the values remained stable during the 24-hour treatment. About 300 salmonella samples were taken before and after the heat treatment. These samples were taken by swabbing areas vigorously with sterile gauze swabs that were immersed in buffered peptone water immediately afterwards. Before heat treatment 36/287 and 60/295 from the barn house and battery cage house, respectively, were salmonella positive. After the heat treatment samples were taken from the same sites and only 6 floor related samples from the battery cage house were Salmonella positive. In both houses faeces with naturally occurring E. coli and Enterococci and feed inoculated with E. coli or Enterococcus faecalis (challenge samples) were placed at the sites where temperature was logged. Generally, these bacteria were killed at temperatures above 60 oC. On Farm B one persistently Salmonella infected barn house was heat-treated according to the same principles as on Farm A, but with 30 ppm formalin added to the steam. Bacteria in challenge samples were generally killed above 60 oC. In conclusion, these preliminary results show that 60 oC and 100% RH during 24 hours could be effective in eliminating Salmonella from persistently infected poultry houses.