Aspergillosis is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in birds. Turkey poults are known to be particularly susceptible to fungal infection. Although the respiratory tract is the most commonly affected, dissemination can occur into virtually any organ. Here, we report an unusual outbreak of articular aspergillosis in a flock of meat turkeys with clinical signs of lameness. Between 7 and 11 weeks of age, turkeys had severe granulomatous osteoarthritis of the hip joints with necrosis of the femur head. Fungal morphology and PCR amplification and sequencing of the first ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 rDNA region identified Aspergillus fumigatus as the infectious agent. Concurrently, Staphylococcus spp. was isolated from the hip joints, which may have promoted the tropism of the fungus. Mild respiratory tract aspergillosis was observed in only one case. The findings suggest that fungal arthritis may present a specific disease entity in turkeys and should be considered as further cause of lameness in turkeys.
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Vol. 54 • No. 3