Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale (ORT) has been considered exotic to New Zealand and thus, any samples from poultry suspected of ORT infection are submitted as part of an exotic disease investigation managed by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and subjected to standardized test protocols carried out in the physical containment level 3 laboratory at MPI's Animal Health Laboratory (AHL). All previous exotic disease investigations concerning ORT produced negative results by bacterial culture and conventional PCR. Following the recent introduction of a real-time PCR for ORT at the AHL, several tracheal wash fluids from backyard chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) were tested positive. This identification constituted the first detection of ORT in New Zealand poultry. As a result, a second premise was investigated with further samples testing positive for ORT by molecular assays. This paper describes the two exotic disease investigations associated with the first detection of ORT in New Zealand poultry and its implications.
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