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J Vet Diagn Invest. 2019 Apr 11:1040638719843638. doi: 10.1177/1040638719843638. [Epub ahead of print]

Infections and pathology of free-roaming backyard chickens on St. Kitts, West Indies.

Bolfa P1,2,3, Callanan JJ1,2,3, Ketzis J1,2,3, Marchi S1,2,3, Cheng T1,2,3, Huynh H1,2,3, Lavinder T1,2,3, Boey K1,2,3, Hamilton C1,2,3, Kelly P1,2,3.

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Departments of Biomedical Sciences (Bolfa, Callanan, Ketzis, Marchi, Cheng, Huynh, Lavinder, Boey).
Clinical Sciences (Kelly), Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, Basseterre, St. Kitts, West Indies.
Moredun Research Institute, Pentlands Science Park, Edinburgh, UK (Hamilton).


Free-roaming chickens on Caribbean islands are important sentinels for local avian diseases and those introduced by birds migrating through the Americas. We studied 81 apparently healthy unvaccinated free-roaming chickens from 9 parishes on St. Kitts, an eastern Caribbean island. Using commercial ELISAs, no chickens had antibodies against avian influenza virus, West Nile virus, or Salmonella Enteritidis, although seropositivity was high to infectious bursal disease virus (86%), infectious bronchitis virus (84%), Mycoplasma (37%), and avian avulavirus 1 (Newcastle disease virus, 31%). Examination of small and large intestinal contents revealed cestodes in 79% and nematodes in 75% of the chickens. Although ectoparasites and endoparasites were common (74% and 79%, respectively), only a few chickens had lesions at postmortem examination, mainly intestinal serosal nodules (12%) and feather loss (6%). Histologic examination of 18 organs from each bird revealed lesions in high percentages of organs, mainly the liver (86%), lung (75%), spleen (60%), small intestine (56%), skin (42%), and kidney (40%). Lesions included degenerative, reactive, inflammatory, and neoplastic, and were not correlated with the serologic status of the chickens except in one case of infectious bursal disease. Microscopically, Paratanaisia bragai was seen in the kidneys of 3 chickens and intestinal coccidiasis in 1 chicken. Pulmonary silicate aggregates were common, were present in intestinal serosal nodules, and were suggestive of environmental exposure.


Caribbean; free-roaming poultry; parasitology; serology


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