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1 September 2004 High Mortality in Egg Layers as a Result of Necrotic Enteritis
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A new facility was designed to hold 1.8 million birds in 10 houses; chickens were placed in five of the houses, and the remaining five houses were under construction when this outbreak occurred. An increase in mortality was reported in five houses; however, mortality in house 7 was quite high. Well-fleshed birds were suddenly found dead without a significant drop in egg production. The middle and distal intestines were distended with gas, congested, thin walled, atonic, and bluish or pale in color with sloughed mucosa in some places. Necrotic enteritis was diagnosed as the cause of increased mortality. The ingesta in the crop occasionally contained flies. The 4-wk mortality in house 7 was 6.55% with a loss of 10,898 chickens. The 4-wk mortality rate in the other houses ranged from 0.54% to 1.98%.

The houses affected with necrotic enteritis were treated for coccidiosis with amprolium because low numbers of the oocysts were present in the intestinal specimens of some of the chickens. Household bleach was added to the water at a dilution of one part bleach to 1040 parts water to control bacterial contamination.

The fly (Musca domestica) population was out of control. Clostridium perfringens was isolated from the alcohol-washed macerated flies caught from houses 4 and 7. Dead flies were often seen in the feed troughs. The chickens may possibly have had C. perfringens infection as a result of consumption of dead flies or their secretions/excretions. The alcohol-washed, macerated, clarified fly extract from the affected houses caused death in 11 inoculated mice and paralysis in one mouse. Similarly, illness and mortality were present in four mice inoculated with clarified intestinal contents. The bacterium isolated on anaerobic culture was identified as C. perfringens by polymerase chain reaction.

The disease was brought under control after straw was added and mixed in with the litter. As a result, the litter temperature increased, causing a decrease in the fly population. This study suggests that flies in the poultry houses acted as mechanical transmitters of C. perfringens and that the development of necrotic enteritis was by ingestion of bacteria present in the flies and their secretions/excretions.

A. S. Dhillon, Parimal Roy, Lloyd Lauerman, Dennis Schaberg, Sylvia Weber, Daina Bandli, and Fonda Wier "High Mortality in Egg Layers as a Result of Necrotic Enteritis," Avian Diseases 48(3), 675-680, (1 September 2004).
Received: 29 September 2003; Published: 1 September 2004

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