The prevalence of Campylobacter jejuni in wild birds is a potential hazard for human and animal health. The aim of this study was to establish the prevalence of C. jejuni in wild birds in Tokachi area, Hokkaido, Japan and investigate their virulence in vitro. In total, 173 cloacal swabs from individual wild birds were collected for the detection of Campylobacter spp. Thirty four samples (19.7%) were positive for Campylobacter of which 94.1% (32/34 samples) were C. jejuni. Additionally, one C. coli and one C. fetus were isolated. Seven C. jejuni isolates (one from crows and the other from pigeons) had important virulence genes including all three CDT genes (cdtA, cdtB and cdtC) and flaA, flaB, ciaB and cadF, and the other isolates were lacking cdtA gene. Further studies on in vitro virulence-associated phenotypes, such as motility assay on soft agar and invasion assay in Caco-2 cells, were performed. The wild bird C. jejuni isolates adhered and invaded human cells. Although the numbers of viable intracellular bacteria of wild bird isolates were lower than a type strain NCTC11168, they persisted at 48-hr and underwent replication in host cells.
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