VLA: Turkeys Lost from Erysipelas, Fowl Cholera

UK - Erysipelas and fowl cholera caused losses in turkeys, according to the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) Monthly Scanning Surveillance Report for November 2010.
calendar icon 17 February 2011
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Broilers and Broiler Breeders

Enterococcus cecorum

Septicaemia and septic arthritis were diagnosed in a flock of 19-day-old broilers submitted with a history of lameness. Findings at post mortem examination included swollen livers and spleens in several carcasses and small strands of purulent material in one hip joint of one bird. Enterococcus cecorum was isolated from spleen liver and joint cultures. This organism can often be isolated from episodes of necrotic spondylitis (spinal abscess) in broilers occuring from around 30 days of age onwards, with some affected flocks having a history of lameness and septic arthritis at around the same age as the birds in this case
Wood et al., (2002) Isolation of Enterococcus cecorum from bone lesions in broiler chickens. Vet. Rec. 150:27.

Suspected transmissible viral proventriculitis

Proventricular lesions with histological correlates similar to those described in cases of so called transmissible viral proventriculitis were seen in 19-day-old broilers with a history of poor growth. Post mortem examination revealed few abnormalities although some birds had mild rickets with slightly reduced bone strength and readily detected, slightly enlarged parathyroid glands. Histological examination of several tissues including proventriculus revealed a multifocal lymphocytic proventriculitis with glandular degeneration and ductular hypertrophy and hyperplasia. The cause of this condition is still under investigation. Interestingly, in the birds examined, there was no direct relationship between bird weight and presence/absence of proventriculitis – some small birds were unaffected whilst one of the larger ones had a prominent proventricular lesion.

Enterococcus Hirae

Colisepticaemia, and septicaemia caused by Enterococcus hirae, were diagnosed in a submission of 11 commercial broiler chickens aged approximately two weeks. Four houses were affected with mortality of between 2.8 to 3.2 per cent.

Staphylococcus aureus

Deaths in 10-week-old broiler chickens were found to be due to Staphylococcus aureus infection. The affected group of 200 birds were placed at one day of age and approximately 50 to 60 had died in total including 16 over the previous three days. Of the seven birds examined post-mortem, six appeared to all been affected by S. aureus septicaemia. The birds were treated with tylosin in the drinking water and the deaths promptly ceased. S. aureus infections are well recognised in broilers and broiler breeders. Social and environmental stress and simultaneous infections may lower resistance to this organism, although predisposing factors were not identified in this outbreak.



Post-mortem examination of two 12-week-old turkeys, received with a history of lethargy prior to death, revealed generalised subcutaneous congestion and enlargement of the spleen consistent with septicaemia. Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae was subsequently recovered from the liver and spleen of both birds. In another case, the disease was responsible for four deaths in a flock of 580 birds over a 48-hour period, affected birds being found dead. In a third case, three Bronze turkeys died in a group of 48 birds.

Fowl cholera

The deaths of two four-month-old white feathered turkeys in a group of 27 birds was found to be caused by fowl cholera. At necropsy, haemorrhages were present over the surface of the heart and there was congestion and consolidation of the lungs, together with purple discolouration of the skin of the head. Pasteurella multocida was isolated from the affected lung tissue, confirming a diagnosis of fowl cholera.

Haemorrhagic enteritis

Four out of a group of 20 16-week-old turkeys died over a four-week period. Necropsy of one affected bird revealed thickening and diphtheresis of the proximal small intestinal mucosa. The spleen was also enlarged and mottled. Turkey haemorrhagic enteritis was suspected and confirmed following an agar gel immuno diffusion test carried out on splenic tissue. Disease outbreaks can be precipitated by stress, such as overcrowding or chilling and it was suspected that the recent cold weather may have triggered the outbreak.

Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale

Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale caused an outbreak of pneumonia and air sacculitis in turkey poults. Necropsy revealed consolidation of the lungs (one unilateral, two bilateral), white caseous material in the air sacs and enlarged spleens. O. rhinotracheale was isolated from lung from two birds with pneumonia (one stag, one hen). The stags were treated with enrofloxacin and the hens with tylosin and deaths stopped in both groups.

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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