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A preliminary field and laboratory investigation report on

out break of Sudden Death Syndrome in broiler chicken

above 6 week age in Kathmandu valley

Date: 15 Bhadra 2065

Background Field situation:

An unexpected Sudden Death of broiler of above 6 week striked in Kathmandu valley from mid July to yet.
On field observation in Dharmasthali,Jitpurphedi,Krtipur,Indrayany,Thali,Danchhi,Mulpani,Brahmakhel
area was investigated. On field investigation following condition was observed. Broilers those died of
sudden death syndrome showed no specific premonitory abnormalities. Birds affected were usually
broilers, appear healthy and are often above average flock body weight. Just before death birds appear
normal and it is common to observe that these birds will be feeding, drinking or walking normally. Birds in
flock appeared trmbling,ataxic,brooding posture,gasping,prostation, dead birds were found dead in
poultry shade in different part of shade in all flock that were observed, Birds exhibit clinical signs such as
extending their neck, squawk and start wing beating as well as leg extension before fall back on their
back or lyining on breast or by there side.Generally all flocks were diagnosed being affected by either
CRD,Cocci, IBD and all flocks were found treated with drugs like Tylosin,Enroxin,Cholistin,Anticoccicidal
drugs with liver tonic with miltivitamin Bcomplex.Most of the farmes were located in low marshy land and
poultry house were constructed in rented land and were in temporary thatched in nature.Feed supply and
birds were being supplied by common hatchery feed meal source and all birds were previously diagnosed
for similar disease and similar treatment and preventive measure were advised. Death occurs within
minutes. Birds in most of affected flock were observed havening leg deformity and difficulty in walking
and standing.The condition was provisionally diagnosed as Sudden Death Syndrome probably due to
involvement of systemic mycosis. Detail field and laboratory findings and suggestion is given below.

Table: 1. Epidemiology of Affected flock in Kathmandu Valley with sudden Death Syndrome in Month
of August 2008:

Duration no.of farm Population at Morbidity Mortality No. of samples

risk (%) (%) examined
22 16620 4250 (25.57%) 369 44
First week (2.22%)
Second week 14 15450 1235 232 28
(7.99%) (1.50%)
Third week 20 10260 848 157 40
(8.26%) (1.53%)
Fourth week 30 15700 2380 149 60
(15.16%) (0.94%)
Fifth week 13 16450 4750 1650 26
(30%) (0.3%)
Sixth week 12 18850 4550 876 24
(25%) (0.19%)
Total 111 93330 18013 3436 (1.56%) 222

Postmortem finding of suspected SDS birds:

Postmortem examination of birds that died of sudden death syndrome revealed showed no outstanding
gross pathology. All birds were well fleshed, with muscle edema and general pulmonary congestion and
edema. Feed was present along the entire digestive tract and the gall bladders of birds were distended
usually filled with bile. The liver was pale to yellow enlarged molted appearance and kidneys were usually
slightly congested and have patchy sub capsular hemorrhage. In most of the dead birds clotted blood was
present in the atrium while ventricle was contracted .Usually, the proventriculus contains a milky fluid
with hemorrhagic patches and intact food particles are present in gizzard. Crop in some bird was full with
liquid intact food particles. Intestine was ballooning in appearance with thick mucous filled ingesta was
present .Congestive spleenomegally was observed in almost all birds. Bursa was almost normal to

Laboratory Finding of Mycobiota and Micro biota of Postmortem Tissue samples:

A total 222 tissue samples of lung, liver, spleen, proventriculus and gizzard, were collected during
postmortem examination and were subjected for both bacterial and mycological culture. Results of
microbiological examination done are given in Table 2.

Table: 2.

No. of Bacterial isolated Fungi isolated Positive no negative no

111 E.coli, 70 41
111 Aspergillus, 80 31
222 150 72

Treatment and Preventive measure advised to the rest of birds in flock:

All birds remaining in flocks were subjected to restricted feed up to 8-10%, and feed to twice daily only.
Supplementation with glucose containing electrolyte, liquid toxin binders, immunomodulater, and simple
broad-spectrum antibiotics, acidifier, were provided in water. Antibiotics like tylosine, enroxin, cholistin,
gentamycin, livertonic containing vitamin-B, anticoccicidal drugs and Vitamin B complex supplementation
was totally withdrawn. All birds remaining in all affected farms responded well to the above management
and there were marked improvement in the overall condition of the flock.

Discussion and Recommendations :

Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) is an acute heart failure disease that affects mainly male fast growing
chickens that seem to be in good condition. Although a common condition in fast growing birds, the
pathogenesis remains unclear (Ononiwu et. al. 1979). Cardiac arrhythmias are involved in the
pathogenesis of SDS with ventricular arrhythmias (VA) being the most common observation representing
premature ventricular contractions and fibrillation (Olkowski and Classen, 1997; 1998). It has been
reported that broilers fed with high vitamin D3 diet above the recommended levels in an attempt to

prevent commonly occurring leg problems were 2.5 fold more likely to succumb to acute heart failure and
die of SDS (Nain et. Al. 2007). SDS was also experimentally induced by feeding diets containing the

mycotoxin moniliformin that resulted to cardiac injury with subsequent alterations in cardiac electrical
conductance (Reams et al, 1997) suggesting the possible role of chronic mycotoxicosis to the causation of
SDS. Other implicated causes of SDS include continuous artificial lighting (Ononiwu et al, 1979b),
deviations in dietary calcium and phosphorus (Scheideler et al, 1995), feeding crumble-pellet diets
(Proudfoot et al, 1982), dietary fat content (Rotter et al, 1985) and feeding frequency Bowes et al, 1988).
The latter recommendation of restricted feeding supports well the previous observation that abdominal
fat deposition increases the risk of SDS such those restrictions on calorie: protein ratio decreases the
incidence of SDS (Mollison et al, 1984) The SDS seems to be worse when biotin is marginal and
other Vitamin B are in excess. Among many drugs used in poultry the role of anticoccidial drugs
perhaps have received more attention than other drugs. There is some evidence of higher SDS
mortality when anticoccidial drugs are used.
( death Syndrome.htm 2008)

The present investigation indicates that broilers in good body weight condition when not harvested timely
and remain in poultry shade for prolonged periods suffer stressful events and even sudden death. Also, it
is possible that the increased humidity and hot season favors the growth of mold and fungus in stored
feeds increasing the risk of birds to mycotoxicosis. And laboratory finding of CVL revealed the presence of
systemic fungus like Penicillium and Aspergillus in substantial no. of postmortems tissue samples and feed
samples of all sources .This incidence of sudden death syndrome in birds in Kathmandu Valley was
reported for the first time and needs to be investigated further for involvement of moldy feed in its
occurrence in SDS and a suitable preventive measure need to be advised to the poultry sector.

Dr.Kedar Karki, Dr.Banshi Sharma

Senior Veterinary Officer

Central; Veterinary Laboratory, Tripureshwor, Kathmandu, Nepal