London: The simple expedient of vaccinating chickens against the bug C. jejuni could cut down the incidence of food poisoning.
If C. jejuni contaminated poultry is not prepared and cooked properly, the bug can be transmitted to humans and may cause severe gastro-intestinal infections.
C. jejuni is the leading cause of more than 371,000 estimated cases of food borne illness in the UK alone in 2009, resulting in more than 17,500 hospitalisations and 88 deaths.
It is present in the gut of many animals, including chickens. Scientists at Washington State University are studying the maternal antibodies that are passed from hens to their chicks.
"These antibodies protect chicks from becoming colonized by Campylobacter in the first week of life," explained Michael Konkel, professor, who is leading the research, according to a Washington statement.
"Our group has now identified the bacterial molecules that these antibodies attack, which has given us a starting point for a vaccine against Campylobacter," he said.
"We have already found that chickens injected with these specific molecules--found on the surface of Campylobacter jejuni - produce antibodies against the bacterium. This response partially protects them from colonization," added Konkel.
These findings were presented at Society for General Microbiology`s Spring Conference in Dublin.