Fowl Cholera in Chukar Partridges
Martin Ficken, DVM, PhD
Twelve dead adult Chukar partridges were submitted to the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) in Gonzales for necropsy. History noted an increase in spontaneous deaths over a few days’ period with minimal or no clinical signs observed.
Upon necropsy examination, the birds had enlarged, pale, orange-colored livers and enlarged, dark spleens. The lungs were severely congested and edematous and many had multifocal areas of hemorrhage. Feed was present in the crop and gizzard of most birds. The duodenum and jejunum were filled with fluid. No other lesions were noted.
Lesions observed on histopathology included acute, multifocal splenic necrosis, acute, multifocal hepatic necrosis with intralesional bacteria, and acute, fibrinous pneumonia with multifocal areas of hemorrhage.
Cultures of lungs and livers from four of the birds were submitted for bacteriology testing and yielded pure cultures of Pasteurella multocida.
A diagnosis of fowl cholera (Pasteurella multicoda) was determined.
Fowl cholera is a contagious bacterial disease caused by Pasteurella multocida that affects domesticated and wild birds. Most reported outbreaks affect chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese, but other types of poultry, such as game birds raised in captivity, pet birds, and zoo birds are susceptible.
The source of introduction of the organism into a susceptible flock often is not known. Sparrows, pigeons, and rats have been demonstrated to be able to be infected with the organism when exposed to infected chickens and, in turn, were able to infect susceptible chickens. Some isolates from pigs and cats can also induce disease in poultry.
Treatment with antibiotics such as tetracycline and penicillin are usually very effective in controlling the disease. Live bacterial vaccines and bacterins are also available for disease control.
For more information about TVMDL testing recommendations, please consult with one of our poultry-specific diagnostic laboratories in Center or Gonzales, or contact one of our veterinary diagnosticians located at both of our full-service laboratories in Amarillo or College Station. To learn more about this case, contact Gonzales Resident Director Dr. Martin Ficken.
Glisson, JR, Hofacre, CL, Christensen JP. Fowl Cholera in Diseases of Poultry, 13thedition, Wiley-Blackwell, ed. Swayne, DE et al. pp. 807-823, 2013.