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Vet Microbiol. 2006 Mar 10;113(1-2):143-52. Epub 2005 Dec 5.

Molecular and phenotypical characterization of Clostridium perfringens isolates from poultry flocks with different disease status.

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Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Avian Diseases, Research Group Veterinary Public Health and Zoonoses, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, B-9820 Merelbeke, Belgium.


Due to the diminished use of growth-promoting antibiotics in the European Union, Clostridium perfringens induced necrotic enteritis and subclinical disease have become important threats to poultry health. A study was set up to genotypically and phenotypically characterise C. perfringens isolates from poultry flocks with different health status. Animals from healthy flocks were sampled by cloacal swabs, while intestinal and liver samples of animals suffering from necrotic enteritis were analysed. A total of 27 isolates was obtained from 23 broiler flocks without clinical problems and 36 isolates were obtained from 8 flocks with clinical problems. Using PFGE typing, high genetic diversity was detected between isolates from different flocks. Isolates derived from flocks where disease outbreaks occurred were clonal within each flock, but each flock harboured a different clone. All isolates were of toxin type A. Isolates from 5 out of 35 PFGE types carried the cpb2 gene, encoding the beta2 toxin, and isolates from 2 out of 35 PFGE types harboured the cpe gene, encoding the enterotoxin. In vitro alpha toxin production for all isolates was quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. It was shown that in vitro alpha toxin production of C. perfringens isolates from diseased flocks was not higher than in vitro alpha toxin production from isolates derived from healthy flocks.

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