ALOHMANN ANIMALHEALTH INTERNATIONALNEWS BRIEF
FOWL CHOLERA IN COMMERCIAL POULTRY
John R. Glisson, DVM, MAM, PhDPoultry Diagnostic and Research Center University of Georgia Athens, GAPasteurella multocida
is the etiologicagent of fowl cholera, an acute or chronicbacterial septicemia of chickens, turkeys,quail, ducks, and other birds. The acute dis-ease is characterized by high mortality.Lesions in affected birds may be totallyunapparent or consist of an enlarged liverand spleen, petechial hemorrhages on inter-nal organs or fibrinopurulent pneumonia.Mortality in the chronic disease is normallymuch lower and lesions may consist of purulent arthritis, encephalitis, osteomyelitis,peritonitis, pneumonia, or swollen wattlesfilled with caseated exudate.
is not a normalorganism found in poultry houses. Theorganism is, however, a common inhabi-tant of the oral cavity of many animalsincluding rats, mice, cats, and dogs as wellas many species of wild animals. It is feltthat
initial introduction intoa poultry house is by one of these animals,particularly rats and cats. It is, therefore,very important to maintain a hygiene pro-gram that minimizes contact between rats,cats and poultry. The single-most impor-tant measure for controlling fowl choleramay be rodent control.Many companies use cats inside breederhouses to control rats; and, in mostinstances, this program is successful. The
isolates typically isolatedfrom cats are not typical of the isolates thatinfect chickens. However, once a
strain that is pathogenic for poultry isintroduced into a flock, the cats, as well asthe poultry, will become contaminated andthe cats will then become a reservoir forthe organism. In this situation, it is impor-tant to get rid of the cats before a newbreeder flock is brought to that house.Currently, fowl cholera remains one of the most important bacterial diseases of chickens and turkeys. In many companies,fowl cholera is the most costly disease of broiler breeders. Almost all broiler breed-ers in the United States are vaccinated.Turkeys appear to be more susceptible tothe disease, and it has caused serious loss-es to several companies in recent years. Byinstituting strict biosecurity measures andgood hygiene procedures, many turkeycompanies have been able to eliminatevaccination in commercial turkeys on par-ticular farms and in certain geographiclocations. However, vaccination of com-mercial turkeys and turkey breeders is stillwidely practiced.In recent years, fowl cholera in broilershas become more common. Usually thesecases can be attributed to very poor farmhygiene and contact between broilers andcarrier animals, such as rats and cats.Since vaccination is not practical in broil-ers, improved hygiene and rodent controlmust be used to prevent recurrence of thedisease on contaminated farms.To understand the principles of fowlcholera vaccination, it is important to alsounderstand the relevance of the serotypingsystem for
There are 16serotypes of
, numbered 1-16.Many isolates have characteristics of morethan one serotype. For example, serotype3,4 has characteristics of serotype 3 andserotype 4. The most common serotypesencountered in poultry are 1, 3, and 4 orcombinations of those serotypes, such as1,3 or 3,4. In recent surveys, serotype 3,4has often been found to be the most com-mon serotype isolated from both chickensand turkeys.Inactivated fowl cholera vaccines (bac-terins) induce protection only against theserotypes of the isolates included in thebacterin. Since it is impractical to includeall 16
serotypes in a bacterinand since only a few serotypes commonlycause disease in poultry, most commercial-ly-available fowl cholera bacterins containserotypes 1, 3, and 4. These products,therefore, provide protection against onlyserotypes 1, 3, and 4, but these are the
In this issue of avian insight:
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cholera is much more likely to occur if pullets and cockerels are moved to thehen house on the same day theyare vaccinated with a live fowl choleravaccine. Many companies have eliminat-ed the problem by vaccinating the birdsone to two weeks before moving themand by using a tetracycline antibiotic inthe first load of feed at the hen house.Another helpful procedure is to use oneof the milder live vaccines, PM-1 or M-9.Giving a dose of conventional fowlcholera bacterin or the conventionalbacterin that also contains serotype 3,4 atthe first vaccination time, followed by alive vaccination at 16-20 weeks, cangreatly reduce vaccine-induced cholera.Likewise, first vaccinatingwith live vac-cine followed by a bacterin has been usedsuccessfully.Commercial market turkeys, if vacci-natedagainst fowl cholera, are vaccinat-ed almost exclusively with live vaccines.All three live vaccines are widely used.Most companies begin oral vaccination at5-6 weeks of age and repeat vaccinationevery 3-4 weeks. While protection fromoral vaccination is short-lived, frequentvaccination provides broad-spectrum pro-tection. Because vaccine-induced choleracan also be a problem in turkeys, it hasled to the increased use of the milder livevaccines. Many cases of vaccine-inducedcholera in market turkeys result fromvaccination of turkeys suffering fromconcurrent diseases such as Newcastledisease, bordetellosis, and colibacillosis.Therefore, vaccination of sick flocks withlive fowl cholera vaccines should beavoided when possible.Treatment of fowl cholera has changedvery little in recent years. Traditionally,tetracyclines and sulfonamides were themost effective products available.Penicillin, which some
isolates are very sensitive to, can be veryeffective in some cases. It is important tocheck for penicillin susceptibility on all
isolates, particularly those thatdo not respond clinically to tetracyclinesand sulfonamides. Today, enrofloxacin issometimes used to treat fowl cholera. It ismuch more effective than sulfonamides,tetracyclines or penicillin.In summary, fowl cholera continues tobe a serious health problem in the poultryindustry. Various strategies are availablefor its control by vaccination and treat-ment.Unfortunately, vaccination andtreatment will not eliminate fowl cholerawhere the operation is heavily contami-nated with
. It has been cor-rectly stated that, “You can’t vaccinateyour way out of a fowl cholera problem.”Vaccines are effective, but of equal, orperhaps greater, importance is rodentcontrol. Fowl cholera is a disease thatgets out of control because of improperhygiene and inadequate rodent control.
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