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Poultry Diseases Caused by Fungus

Poultry Diseases Caused by Fungus



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Poultry Diseases Caused by Fungus/MoldDr.Kedar Karki
Aspergillosis (Brooder Pneumonia)
Aspergillosis has been observed in almost all birds and animals, including man.The disease is observed in one of two forms; acute outbreaks with high morbidityand high mortality in young birds, and a chronic condition affecting adult birds. Itis more of a problem in turkeys than in chickens.The condition is caused by
 Aspergillus fumigatus
, a mold or fungus-typeorganism. Occasionally other types of molds are involved. These organisms arepresent in the environment of all poultry. They grow readily on many substancessuch as litter, feed, rotten wood and other similar materials.The bird comes in contact with the organisms through contaminated feed, litter or premises. The disease is not contagious and does not spread from one bird toanother. Most healthy birds can withstand repeated exposure to theseorganisms. Inhalation of large amounts of the infectious form of the mold or reduced resistance of the bird apparently results in infection. In adult turkeys, thedisease more often affects the male.In the acute form in young birds, main symptoms are gasping, sleepiness, loss of appetite and sometimes convulsions and death. Occasionally the organisminvades the brain, causing paralysis or other forms of nervous symptoms. Themore chronic form in older birds usually results in loss of appetite, gasping or coughing and a rapid loss of body weight. Mortality is usually low and only a fewbirds are affected at one time.The disease produces hard nodular areas in the lungs and an infection of the air sacs. Sometimes the air sac lesions are similar to those produced by infectioussinusitis or CRD. In some birds, colonies of mold growth can be seen on the air sac membranes.Diagnosis is usually made from history, symptoms and lesions. It may benecessary to base diagnosis on microscopic lesions.The disease can usually be prevented by avoiding moldy litter, feed or premises.There is no treatment for the affected flock. Cleaning and disinfecting theequipment is often helpful.
It is known that certain strains of fungi (molds) growing in feed or feed ingredientscan produce toxins that, when eaten by man or animals, can cause a very lethaldisease called mycotoxicosis. The toxins produced by these fungi are very toxicand rivals the botulism toxin for toxicity.Mycotoxicosis is caused by ingestion of toxic substances produced by moldsgrowing on feed, feed ingredients and possibly litter. Several types of fungiproduce toxins that may cause problems in poultry, but of primary concern aresubstances produced by the
 Aspergillus flavus
fungi and are thus calledaflatoxins.
 Aspergillus flavus
is a common mold that grows on many substances,and grows especially well on grain and nuts. Several other fungi also producetoxins that cause the disease.The aflatoxins include four closely related metabolites of 
 A. flavus
known as B
, G and G
. The B
toxin is the most toxic and is of greatest concern to thepoultry industry.Mold toxins cause a wide variety of signs, many difficult to recognize. Theaflatoxins under certain conditions cause death, reduced growth, reduced eggproduction, reduced hatchability, signs associated with "physiological stress" andimpaired ability to develop immunity to infectious agents. Diagnosis is difficultbecause characteristic lesions usually are not present, and detection of the toxinis not conclusive.Molds are widespread in nature. Standing grains and other feed substances arefrequently infected with toxin-producing molds prior to harvest. The key is proper storage to control moisture and temperature to reduce growth of the molds whilein storage. Although the mold is present, it cannot produce toxic products unlessallowed to grow freely. Aflatoxins in feeds can be detected by chemical tests.Once the toxin is produced there is no known method for removing it from thefeed or cancelling its harmful effects. Providing a diet containing high fat and highprotein levels and augmenting the ration with vitamin supplements may be of value.
Moniliasis (Crop Mycosis, Thrush)
This is a disease that primarily affects the upper digestive tract of all birds and ischaracterized by whitish thickened areas of the crop and proventriculus, erosionsin the gizzard, and inflammation of the vent area. It is caused by a yeast-likefungus (
Candida albicans
Poultry of all ages are susceptible to the effects of this organism. Chickens,turkeys, pigeons, pheasants, quail and grouse are species most commonlyaffected as well as other domestic animals and humans. The Candida organismis widely spread throughout the poultry producing areas of the world.Moniliasis is transmitted by ingestion of the causative organism in infected feed,water or environment. Unsanitary and unclean water troughs are an excellentreservoir of the Candida organism. The disease does not however, spreaddirectly from bird to bird. The organism grows especially well on corn, so infectioncan be introduced by feeding moldy feed.This malady produces no specific symptoms. Young birds become listless, pale,show ruffled feathers and appear unthrifty. Affected caged layer hens becomeobese and anemic. Some birds exhibit a vent inflammation that resembles adiarrhea induced condition having whitish incrustations of the feathers and skinaround the area. Feed consumption may increase by ten to twenty percent.Gross lesions are mostly confined to the crop, proventriculus and gizzard. Thecrop and proventriculus have whitish thickened areas that are often described ashaving a "turkish towel" appearance. Erosion of the lining of the proventriculusand gizzard is commonly observed, as well as an inflammation of the intestines.Diagnosis is based on history and typical lesions in the flock. Confirmation of thecondition is by isolation and laboratory identification of the
C. albicans
organism.Treatment of the flock with an antimycotic drug will control the infection. Manybroad spectrum antibiotics will enhance this disease; therefore they should notbe used until after control of this condition is completed. Addition of Nystatin (100g/Ton) or copper sulfate (2-3 lb/Ton) to the feed for seven to ten days shouldcontrol moniliasis.Once introduced into the flock, moniliasis is perpetuated by suboptimalmanagement conditions. Preventative measures include the continual use of mold inhibitors in the feed, proper feed handling and storage, daily cleaning andsanitizing of the watering system and periodic stirring and/or replacement of wetlitter areas to prevent caking. An inexpensive, yet effective, water treatment is thecontinuous addition of household chlorine bleach to the drinking water at the rateof five parts per million (ppm).Use of liquid toxin binder and simultaneous use of immunomodulater and adaptogen and multivitamin B complex helps to reducesthe loss of production.
1. Diseases of Poultry, Eds. Calnek BW, Barnes HJ, Beard CW, Reid WM, Yoder HWJr., Iowa State University Press, Ames, IA, 9th ed., 1991

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