VLA: Leg Problems in Breeders Cause Losses

UK - Broiler breeder leg problems caused by staphylococcal arthritis and Enterococcus spinal abscesses were among the problems investigated by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) and covered in its report for May 2010.
calendar icon 8 July 2010
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Broilers and broiler breeders

Staphylococcal arthritis
A history of staphylococcal infection of the joints and recurrence after antibacterial treatment was reported in 18-week-old broiler breeder birds. Further birds were submitted, as several were lame with swollen hocks, and approximately four birds a day were dying by week 18 out of a flock of 6,000. Coagulase positive haemolytic Staphylococcus sp. was isolated from turbid joint fluid in hock joints and purulent exudate from periarticular tissues in one foot.

Spondylitis and spinal abcessation
Thirty out of a group of 26,000 42-day-old broiler breeders had developed suspected spinal lesions over a seven-day period. They had gone off their legs and were unable to stand. There was gross evidence of abscessation and spinal cord compression at the thoraco-lumbar junction and several birds had numerous small white miliary lesions throughout the liver tissues. Spondylitis with spinal abscessation associated with Enterococcus cecorum was diagnosed.

Reimerella anatipestifer
Material was submitted from a 36,000-bird unit with a history of respiratory distress and malaise in birds aged four weeks. Additional clinical signs recorded included recumbency and slight head tremors. Bacteriology produced pure growths of a non-haemolytic organism in a septicaemic distribution. This was subsequently identified as Riemerella anatipestifer.

Backyard flocks

Infectious bronchitis
A breeder of Derbyshire Redcaps experienced an outbreak of respiratory disease in a small group of 11 free-range birds. The entire group showed a gurgling respiration and one cockerel died. At necropsy, the cockerel showed enlarged pale kidneys. An affected hen was euthanased and post mortem at Preston showed accumulation of catarrhal exudate in the trachea plus the presence of two inspissated unshelled ova in the peritoneal cavity. Infectious bronchitis (IB) virus was detected by PCR in tracheal swabs from both birds. No vaccines had been used in the flock.

Ducks and geese

Duck virus enteritis
An animal rescue centre with a small population of birds lost four Muscovy ducks and two Indian Runners – some seen drooling fluid from their beaks, others found dead overnight. One Indian Runner was found to have diphtheritic and erosive lesions in the oesophagus, small intestine and cloaca together with petechial haemorrhages in the epicardium and ecchymotic haemorrhage in the ovary. A diagnosis of duck virus enteritis (DVE) was made. Infection was probably introduced by visiting wild mallard that had access to ponds and streams at the centre.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

Further Reading

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