Chicken E. COLI INFECTIONS

SEPTICEMIA AND AIRSACCULITIS
Etiology
Pathogenic strains of E. coli, superimposed on primary immunosuppressive
and respiratory viral infections.
Occurrence and Economic Significance
Septicemia and airsacculitis resulting from E. coli infection are responsible
for decreased growth rate and feed conversion efficiency, elevated flock
mortality, downgrading and condemnation of carcasses in processing
plants. Infection of commercial laying and breeding stock during the
rearing period may adversely affect subsequent performance.
Flocks infected with vertically transmitted or acquired mycoplasmosis
are extremely susceptible to E. coli airsacculitis.
Diets containing aflatoxins or free radicals evolved from peroxidation of
lipids will lead to immunosuppression with increased susceptibility to E.
coli infection.
Transmission
E. coli is introduced onto poultry farms through contaminated drinking
water. High levels of infection occur following deficiencies in routine
decontamination of housing, equipment and drinking systems.
Immunosuppressive and respiratory viruses which precipitate infection
are transmitted by direct and indirect contact especially on multi-age farms
or where biosecurity is defective.
Clinical Signs
Flock morbidity of up to 10% occurs during the 10 – 40 day period
accompanied by ascending mortality which may either plateau or decline
but usually persists until depletion of the flock. Total losses may attain
50% in immunosuppressed broiler flocks subjected to environmental stress
and previous exposure to viral respiratory pathogens and mycoplasmosis.
Pathology
Acute septicemia is characterized by pulmonary congestion, enlargement
of the spleen and liver, and generalized venous congestion. Most birds
which die of septicemia show perihepatitis, pericarditis and peritonitis.
Bursal atrophy indicating previous exposure to IBDV is often observed.
Birds surviving acute airsacculitis show stunted growth and develop a
caseous exudate in the air sacs often accompanied by peritonitis, resulting
in downgrading or condemnation at processing.
Diagnosis
Isolation, identification and serotyping of E. coli from heart blood,
perivisceral exudate, and liver tissue. Evaluation of the epidemiology of
immunosuppressive and respiratory infections by serology and isolation
is recommended.
Treatment
Mortality can be suppressed by administration of water soluble
furazolidone, sulfonamides, and fluoroquinolones where these drugs are
permitted. It is necessary to perform antibiograms to ensure that selected
drugs are effective. Medication should be administered in accordance with
statutory restrictions concerning withdrawal and must comply with the
manufacturer’s recommendations.
Prevention

Chlorination of drinking water to 2 ppm and installation of closed (nipple)
drinking systems are recommended.
Alleviation of obvious managemental deficiencies and environmental stress factors will reduce the intensity of respiratory stress.
Appropriate vaccination programs are required to prevent immunosuppressive
and respiratory viral diseases.

To Learn More

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