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Avian Pathol. 2008 Jun;37(3):281-6. doi: 10.1080/03079450802043726.

Prevalence, disease associations and risk factors for colonization with intestinal spirochaetes (Brachyspira spp.) in flocks of laying hens in north-eastern Italy.

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Laboratorio di Treviso, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Treviso, Italy.


The present study investigated the occurrence of anaerobic intestinal spirochaetes of the genus Brachyspira in laying hen flocks in Treviso province, north-eastern Italy, with respect to prevalence, spirochaete species present, disease associations and risk factors for colonization. A total of 450 faecal samples from 45 sheds on 29 laying hen farms were cultured for intestinal spirochaetes. Nineteen sheds on 12 farms contained chickens with symptoms consistent with avian intestinal spirochaetosis, including reduced egg production, wet litter and/or pasty vents. Spirochaetes were isolated from 157 (34.8%) samples from 21 (72.4%) farms, and from 32 (71.1%) sheds. From these positive samples, 189 spirochaetal isolates were speciated using three polymerase chain reaction assays and a restriction fragment polymorphism analysis of 16S rDNA polymerase chain reaction products. Overall, 52 (27.5%) isolates were identified as pathogenic Brachyspira intermedia, 26 (13.8%) as pathogenic Brachyspira pilosicoli, 93 (49.7%) as non-pathogenic (Brachyspira innocens/Brachyspira murdochii), and 18 (9.6%) were unidentified. Faeces from 14 sheds (31%) on 10 farms (34.5%) contained B. intermedia and/or B. pilosicoli, and disease consistent with avian intestinal spirochaetosis was observed in nine of these sheds on seven farms. There was a significant association (P=0.042) between the presence of spirochaetes and using deep pits rather than conveyor belts for manure disposal. Sheds housing chickens >40 weeks of age were significantly more likely to contain spirochaetes (P=0.048) and pathogenic species (P=007) than sheds housing younger chickens. A significant association (P=0.02) was found between infection with pathogenic spirochaetes and reduced egg production.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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