Bordetella hinzii is commonly acquired from the respiratory tract of diseased poultry but is generally Regarded as nonpathogenic in avian hosts because attempts to demonstrate disease following experimental infection of chickens and turkeys have failed. Recently, with the availability of highly specific DNA-based methods for identification of this agent, it was recognized that some isolates used in previous studies were misidentified at the time of their acquisition as Bordetella avium, B. avium–like, or Alcaligenes faecalis type II, including a subset reported to cause disease in turkey poults. In this study six strains of B. hinzii, genetically distinct and representing all known host species, were evaluated for their ability to colonize and cause disease in turkeys following intranasal administration. Although five strains were able to colonize the tracheas of turkey poults, only a subset induced clinical signs of disease, B. hinzii–specific antibodies, or tracheal lesions. The sixth isolate was undetectable in tracheal swabs obtained 1 or 2 weeks postinfection. Birds of this group displayed no clinical signs and minimal tracheal lesions. All remained B. hinzii seronegative. Three of the six strains, differing in their capacity to colonize and/or cause disease in turkeys, were used to infect chicks intranasally. Only one was able to colonize the trachea but did not induce tracheal lesions. No clinical signs of disease were observed in any chick. These results demonstrate that some strains of B. hinzii are virulent in turkey poults and may asymptomatically colonize chicks, and suggest this agent may be of concern to poultry producers.
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