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Vet Microbiol. 2011 Apr 21;149(1-2):193-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2010.11.005. Epub 2010 Nov 9.

Campylobacter jejuni is associated with, but not sufficient to cause vibrionic hepatitis in chickens.

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School of Clinical Veterinary Science, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU, United Kingdom.


Vibrionic hepatitis is a disease of poultry which is characterised by the presence of focal lesions in the liver, usually 1-2mm in size and greyish-white in colour. The cause of the disease remains unclear, as do the reasons for its recent re-emergence. We examined the livers of commercial broiler chickens taken during processing and found Campylobacter spp. in both normal livers and those displaying signs indicative of focal hepatitis. Livers with signs of hepatitis had significantly more Campylobacter spp. present than those without and other bacterial genera were infrequently present. We were unable to replicate the disease in a healthy host following experimental infection with a Campylobacter jejuni strain isolated from a liver showing signs of focal hepatitis. However, a significant T cell response to C. jejuni was seen in the liver of Campylobacter infected birds. We conclude that the presence of Campylobacter spp. in the liver alone is not sufficient to cause vibrionic hepatitis, but that a predisposing factor, possibly within the host is required. We also provide evidence that chickens mount an adaptive T cell response to systemic C. jejuni.

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