Multiple Cases of Ulcerative Enteritis Diagnosed in Quail
By Erin Edwards, DVM, MS, DACVP and Franklin Lopez, DVM, MS, DACVP
With over 800,000 tests run annually, TVMDL encounters many challenging cases. Our case study series will highlight these interesting cases to increase awareness among veterinary and diagnostic communities.
In the past few weeks the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) has received several bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) for necropsy. The majority of submitted quail have come from various hunting preserves all across Texas. These facilities are reporting high mortalities, with some finding 200-400 birds dead each day. At necropsy, these quail have all been diagnosed with ulcerative enteritis.
Ulcerative enteritis is also known as quail enteritis or quail disease. The pathologic lesions are often strongly characteristic and diagnostic. The intestinal lesions can range in severity. Most cases have multifocal, round, “button” ulcers that are covered by diphtheritic membranes. These lesions are often seen from the serosa before the intestinal tract is opened (Fig. 1). Additionally, the intestinal tract may be dilated and reddened with hemorrhagic luminal contents. In many cases the liver is also affected and has multifocal to coalescing pale foci. Histologically, the intestinal ulcers are coated by abundant bacilli (Fig. 2).
Ulcerative enteritis is a bacterial disease caused by Clostridium colinum. Bobwhite quail, particularly captive populations, are highly sensitive to this disease and are the most susceptible species. Other gallinaceous birds can also be affected, including chickens, turkey, pheasants, and grouse. Several predisposing factors play a role in the onset of disease with stress being the biggest perpetuating influence. Overcrowding and temperature changes are important stressors in these birds. Coccidiosis can also play a role, especially in chickens. Management strategies are important for disease prevention and treatment and should be aimed at reducing overcrowding, limiting other stressors, cleaning and/or replacing the substrate in affected pens, and administering antibiotics as directed by a veterinarian.
To learn more about this case, contact Dr. Erin Edwards, Veterinary Pathologist, or Dr. Franklin Lopez, Veterinary Pathologist. For more information about TVMDL’s test catalog, visit tvmdl.tamu.edu or call 1.888.646.5623.