This report describes an unusual presentation of severe focal necrotic tracheitis in a flock of 8-wk-old commercial turkeys. The flock was kept on a range that is located near a cotton field. The cotton field had been chemically defoliated 2 wk before the birds were submitted for necropsy. At necropsy, most of the birds had a 1-cm, yellow–white constricture in the upper third of the trachea at which the lumen was partially occluded by necrotic tissue. Microscopically, there was severe, transmural necrosis with an accumulation of inflammatory exudate in the tracheal lumen and numerous bacteria within the necrotic debris, mucosa, and lamina propria. Mixed bacteria were isolated from the trachea. No viruses were detected. Neither abnormal heavy metal concentrations in the liver nor paraquat in the respiratory tract were detected. The exact cause of this severe, necrotic tracheitis was not determined. Based on the clinical history and laboratory findings, it was concluded that a combination of a toxic irritant, possibly an aerosolized cotton defoliant, and bacterial infections were likely the cause of this lesion.
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