Dutch research suggests that one type of beetle and their larvae could carry over salmonella and campylobacter from one broiler flock to the next.
The darkling beetle (Alphitobius diaperinus) and its larvae are known to inhabit broiler houses and are believed to survive between rearing cycles by eating their way into insulation materials and hiding under floors.
In the study conducted by Wageningen University and Research Centre, Lelystad, The Netherlands, researchers artificially contaminated several groups of beetles and their larvae with a mixture of S enterica and three C jejuni strains.
These were then fed to housed broiler chicks either the day of inoculation or one week following to mimic an empty week between rearing cycles.
All the broiler chicks that were fed insects contaminated on the same day showed campylobacter and salmonella colonisation levels of 50-100%. Insects that were fed a week after infection resulted in transfer of both pathogens as well, but at lower levels.
Naturally infected insects collected at a commercial broiler farm and fed to chicks also resulted in colonisation, but at lower levels.
The researchers concluded that producer should employ an intensive control programmes for exclusion of these insects from broiler houses.