VLA Report Highlights Combined Infection in Pheasants

UK - Among the cases in the VLA Monthly Scanning Surveillance Report for December 2009 was the first in which both paramyxovirus 2 and Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale had been isolated in game birds in Great Britain.
calendar icon 8 February 2010
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Commercial Layers and Layer Breeders

The visceral form of Marek's disease was confirmed in a flock of 32-week-old caged layers submitted with a history of increased mortality. Tumours in spleen ovaries and liver were confirmed histopathologically as mixed cell lymphomas. Further cases were detected in birds submitted a fortnight later.

Backyard Flocks

The carcass of a light Sussex cross hen was submitted to Winchester for post mortem examination with a history of weight loss, anorexia and respiratory disease signs. Five birds had died from a group of 40 with ten others showing similar respiratory signs. The tracheal mucosa was markedly congested as was the left lung. The airsacs appeared cloudy. Bacterial culturing of respiratory tract tissue yielded Pasteurella multocida together with commensal organisms. No Mycoplasma organisms were detected. P. multocida is the causative agent of fowl cholera, a disease affecting domesticated and wild birds which produces a wide range of clinical signs with this case showing evidence of the more chronic form of the disease.


A group of pheasants was received from an estate where there had been a history of respiratory disease, including sinusitis and coughing, in released birds in recent weeks. There were variable findings in the birds on post mortem examination, including sinusitis, gapeworms and air sacculitis. Mycoplasma gallisepticum was confirmed both by DGGE testing in the birds and by positive serology. Bacterial cultures yielded a range of organisms including Pasteurella multocida from the spleen of one of the birds, and Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale (ORT) from thickened air sac tissue from the bird with most severe air sacculitis. Virus isolation work was also carried out, which resulted in the isolation of paramyxovirus 2. PMV 2 is occasionally reported in poultry with respiratory disease, but both PMV 2 and ORT have rarely, if ever, been recorded in pheasants. (PMV 2 is not to be confused with PMV 1, the cause of Newcastle disease). In addition, the birds also had heavy mixed burdens of Heterakis gallinarum and Capillaria species intestinal worms.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on the diseases mentioned in this article by clicking here.
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