Ulcerative Enteritis discovered in bobwhite quail
By Martin Ficken, DVM, PhD
Three dead and eight live 17-week-old bobwhite quail were presented to the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) in Gonzales for necropsy with a history of ongoing weight loss and an increase in mortality. One live bird died prior to examination. The remaining live birds were mildly depressed.
Upon necropsy examination, birds ranged in weight from 100–190 grams. All birds had multifocal, white, ulcerated areas in the small intestine and/or cecum (Figure 1). Three of the dead birds had multifocal areas of necrosis in the liver.
Multiple scrapings of the small intestine and cecum revealed no evidence of coccidia or nematodes.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of intestinal and liver samples demonstrated the presence of Clostridium colinum,the cause of ulcerative enteritis.
Ulcerative enteritis is an acute bacterial infection of quail, but it also occurs in young chickens, turkeys, and other upland game birds. It is transmitted via the fecal-oral route under natural conditions; birds become infected by ingesting contaminated feed, water, or litter. The organism produces environmentally resistant spores, resulting in permanent contamination of premises following an outbreak.
After ingestion, the bacterium adheres to the intestinal villi producing inflammation and ulcers in the small and upper large intestine. If birds survive the initial insult, the organism can migrate to the liver via the portal system inducing acute necrosis of that organ.
Predisposing factors may include infection with coccidia, overcrowding, and changes in weather.
For more information about this case, contact Gonzales Resident Director Dr. Martin Ficken. Visit tvmdl.tamu.edu or call 1.888.646.5623 for more information about TVMDL’s test offerings.
Songer, JG, Uzal, F. Ulcerative Enteritis in Diseases of Poultry 13thedition Wiley-Blackwell, ed. Swayne, DE et al. pp. 944-949, 2013.