The role of Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium septicum in the development of cellulitis and mortality in turkey poults was examined. Studies were done in turkeys of two age groups: 3-wk-old and 7-wk-old turkey poults. The effect of varying doses of C. perfringens and C. septicum in reproducing cellulitis lesions and mortality in turkeys was investigated. Both in vitro and in vivo assays were conducted to study their toxic and biologic activities. Clostridium septicum spore culture was found to be more potent than that of C. perfringens in both in vitro assays, such as the hemolysis test, and in vivo assays in mice and turkeys. Both C. perfringens and C. septicum spore cultures were found to be capable of inducing cellulitis lesions and mortality in turkey poults when inoculated by subcutaneous route. Histopathology examination of affected tissues revealed a “moth-eaten appearance,” with abundant growth of C. perfringens and C. septicum in the sarcomeres of muscle tissues and in the subcutaneous tissues. However, C. septicum was found to be more potent than C. perfringens in causing cellulitis lesions and mortality in turkeys. Three-week-old poults were found to be less susceptible than 7-wk-old poults in the development of cellulitis lesions and mortality after inoculation with either spore cultures of C. perfringens or C. septicum. The results of the current study suggest that although C. septicum is more potent in causing cellulitis lesions and mortality, infection with either C. septicum or C. perfringens can cause cellulitis lesions and mortality in turkeys.
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Vol. 54 • No. 2