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J Vet Diagn Invest. 2019 Apr 11:1040638719843577. doi: 10.1177/1040638719843577. [Epub ahead of print]

A two-year prospective study of small poultry flocks in Ontario, Canada, part 1: prevalence of viral and bacterial pathogens.

Brochu NM1,2,3,4, Guerin MT1,2,3,4, Varga C1,2,3,4, Lillie BN1,2,3,4, Brash ML1,2,3,4, Susta L1,2,3,4.

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Departments of Pathobiology (Brochu, Lillie, Susta).
Population Medicine (Guerin), University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Ontario Veterinary College, and Animal Health Laboratory (Brash), University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Guelph, Ontario, Canada (Varga).


In Ontario, within the past few years, there has been a marked increase in the number of non-commercial poultry flocks (referred to as "small flocks"). Small poultry flocks may act as a reservoir of avian and zoonotic pathogens, given the flocks' limited access to veterinary services, inadequate biosecurity practices, and increased risk of contact with wild birds. Despite these potential risks, there is a scarcity of data concerning the prevalence of poultry and zoonotic pathogens among these flocks. To assess the baseline prevalence of bacterial and viral infectious pathogens, prospective surveillance of small flock postmortem submissions to the Animal Health Laboratory was conducted over a 2-y period. With the owner's consent, a postmortem examination and pre-set tests for infectious agents were conducted. A total of 160 submissions, mainly chickens (84%), were received. Among bacterial pathogens, Brachyspira spp., Mycoplasma synoviae, Campylobacter spp., Mycoplasma gallisepticum, and Salmonella spp. were detected in 37%, 36%, 35%, 23%, and 3% of tested submissions, respectively. Among viral pathogens, infectious bronchitis virus, fowl adenovirus, infectious laryngotracheitis virus, avian reovirus, and infectious bursal disease virus were detected in 39%, 35%, 15%, 4%, and 1% of submissions, respectively. We detected non-virulent avian avulavirus 1 from two chickens in a single submission, and low-pathogenic H10N8 influenza A virus from a single turkey submission. Our study provides baseline prevalence of viral and bacterial pathogens circulating in Ontario small flocks and may help animal and human health professionals to educate small flock owners about disease prevention.


Avian avulavirus 1; avian influenza virus; backyard flocks; disease surveillance; epidemiology; infectious laryngotracheitis virus; mixed respiratory infection; poultry pathogens


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