A study was conducted to evaluate the effects of ochratoxin A (OA) on Escherichia coli–challenged broiler chickens. Day-old broiler chicks were separated into two groups of 92 chicks each, with one group fed a control mash diet, and the other fed a mash diet containing 2 ppm OA. On day 14, each group was further separated into two groups, with one group inoculated with E. coli O78 (1 × 107 colony-forming units/0.5 ml), whereas the other group was not inoculated with E. coli. After E. coli inoculation on day 14, four birds from each group were euthanatized at 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 14, and 21 days postinoculation. Escherichia coli infection caused dullness, depression, huddling, and diarrhea. Mortality was 14.3% in chicks infected with E. coli but fed no OA. Mortality increased to 35.7% in chicks fed OA and infected with E. coli. Decreased body weight and reduced feed intake were observed in chicks fed OA, and the effects were more pronounced in chicks fed OA and infected with E. coli. Increased serum levels of aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, uric acid, and creatinine and decreased levels of total proteins, albumin, globulins, calcium, and phosphorus were observed in OA-fed birds. Escherichia coli infection did not cause significant alteration in any of the serum biochemical parameters. The presence of OA in poultry rations increased mortality and the severity of an E. coli infection.
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Vol. 47 • No. 2