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Aivlosin® in Poultry

 

Necrotic Enteritis

Necrotic enteritis, caused by Clostridium perfringens, is seen as an acute or chronic enterotoxaemia in growing birds and is a cause of wet litter syndrome. It is most prevalent in 2-6 week old broilers, with a peak around 25 days, and is becoming more common in turkeys.



Clinical signs

Spread of the disease

Diagnosis

Management and control



Clinical signs

Birds may appear depressed and huddle together; mild enteritis may be evident. Sudden death is possible. Otherwise the birds recover. However, in mild cases growth rate and feed conversion are both adversely affected and this can be economically significant.

Cl. perfringens may:

  • Compete with the host for nutrients
  • Produce toxins that affect the epithelial cells, which in turn affects absorption of nutrients
  • Produce enzymes that deconjugate bile salts, resulting in impaired fat emulsification and lipid absorption.

These factors can have a marked economic effect.

There are major animal health and welfare issues to consider as the wet litter can lead on to hock burns and pododermatitis.

A condition known as cholangiohepatitis can be present at slaughter and is associated with Cl. perfringens. This results in carcass and/or liver condemnation and is obviously economically important. The liver appears pale, enlarged and firm. Often the gall bladder and bile ducts appear enlarged.

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Spread of the disease

The organism may be ingested (exogenous disease) or already be present in the intestine and then increase in numbers due to some stimulus (endogenous disease). Some research has indicated that the organism can infect the bird within the first few days of life.

Clostridium perfringens has been detected in the ileum of apparently normal chicks. The organisms establish themselves in the small intestine and multiply profusely. They require anaerobic or low oxygen conditions for growth.

Coccidiosis, a change to a high protein diet, especially one containing fish meal, coarse material in the diet, inadequate decontamination of premises are factors that predispose the bird to clostridial enteritis.

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Diagnosis

In acute necrotic enteritis, no clinical signs may be apparent until a number of birds start to die. Infection usually occurs in the lower small intestine, although in severe cases this can spread to the whole intestinal tract. Intestines are enlarged (due to gas production) and the serosa may appear discoloured (brown). The contents are brown, liquid and foul-smelling. The lesions are in severe cases described as a towelling effect on the intestinal mucosa. Presence of these intestinal lesions is indicative of Clostridial enteritis.

With sub -acute necrotic enteritis, wet litter may be observed. No obvious lesions may be found. The proximal intestine of normal chickens contains low concentrations of Cl. perfringens but in affected birds higher concentrations are produced. Cl. perfringens is grown using anaerobic conditions and may be identified using an immunofluorescent test or by a specific PCR. Types A and C are common in chickens.

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Management and control

Coccidiostats incorporated into the feed may be beneficial.

Antibiotics are used for both the management and prevention of necrotic enteritis.

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