An increase in mortality in a captive flock of budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) coincided with the isolation of attaching and effacing Escherichia coli from postmortem samples. Common histologic lesions included hepatitis, enteritis, and in one case attaching and effacing lesions along the intestinal tract. Retrospective review of necropsy records and increased sampling led to the identification of several cases of E. coli with the attaching and effacing (eae) virulence gene. Factors such as environment, nutrition, and concomitant pathogens were thought to contribute to mortality in the flock. Although it is not clear whether E. coli was a primary pathogen during the period of increased mortality, the presence of the eae gene combined with associated histologic lesions supports the conclusion that this organism was a significant contributor to mortality. Manipulation of diet, environment, and the addition of probiotic supplementation resulted in a decline in mortality rate and decreased shedding of E. coli based on negative follow-up cultures of intestines, liver, and feces.
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