Enterococcal Spondylitis (ES) is a disease of broiler breeders, isolated in flocks in North Carolina, which causes significant mortality. Enterococcus cecorum (E. cecorum) has been found in spinal abscesses of infected flocks. Sporadic spinal abscesses similar to ES can be caused by other bacteria, including E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

Outbreaks of spinal abscesses in broilers/broiler breeders associated with E. cecorum were first observed in 2007, making it an emerging disease. The most likely route of infection is oral ingestion, and the presence of coccidia may increase the risk of infection. Objectives of this study were: 1) to develop an experimental model for ES using E. cecorum, with and without coccidia challenge, to study possible risk factors (i.e. nutrition, infectious agents, genetics, and management practices); 2) to examine the role of coccidia infection; and 3) to determine the development (pathogenesis) of ES.

Enterococcal Spondylitis caused by E. cecorum was experimentally reproduced under controlled laboratory conditions. However, the disease was observed in only 1 of 16 birds when challenged with both E. cecorum and coccidia. The results provide information on the development of ES and methods to re-create it in the laboratory. This research will aid in development of therapeutic and preventative control measures for this emerging disease.

A detailed summary is available.