U.S. Poultry & Egg Association has announced the completion of two projects that are part of its research program on all phases of poultry and egg production and processing.

In "Genetic Studies on Clostridium perfringens From Lesions in Turkeys," a team of researchers from the department of veterinary and biomedical sciences at the University of Minnesota looked at the genetic attributes of C. perfringens strains isolated from breast blisters, or cellulitis lesions, in turkeys. Cellulitis in turkeys was named by the U.S. Animal Health Association’s Transmissible Diseases of Poultry Committee as one of the top three industry concerns in 2008.

The researchers characterized seven housekeeping genes and one toxin gene of C. perfringens isolates. The housekeeping genes examined were ddlA, dut, glpK, gmk, recA, sod, tpi and the toxin gene was plc. Among the eight loci examined, plc locus had a maximum number of alleles.

Unlike previous studies, the study results indicate that there is considerable genetic diversity among C. perfringens isolates from cellulitis cases. The study demonstrated more than six C. perfringens reactive proteins of interest. The major secretory toxins identified from C. perfringens type A isolates cultured from cellulitis cases were phospholipase, collagenase, hyaluronidase, Dnase, enolase, muramidase, pyruvate kinase and some hypothetical proteins.

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“Our results suggest involvement of different toxins of C. perfringens that may play a role in pathogenesis and possibly in protective immune response against cellulitis in turkeys,” wrote the research team. “Cellulitis-inducing C. perfringens we examined differed in their secretory protein profile from non-cellulitis inducers, but not in their genomic profiles. The results of this study enabled us to better understand the genotypic and phenotypic characteristics of C. perfringens type A involved in cellulitis in turkeys which may contribute to the selection of isolates as vaccine candidates.”

In "Spinal Abscesses in Male Broiler Breeders," researchers from the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University evaluated the development of spinal abscesses, or vertebral osteoarthritis, caused by Enterococcus cecorum. Enterococcal vertebral osteoarthritis (EVOA) is an emerging disease of male broiler and broiler breeder chickens that causes significant mortality and morbidity.

The study found that oral exposure to E. cecorum was the most likely to lead to spinal lesions, with 2 of 34 birds exposed this way developing the lesions. Exposure of the airsacs to E. cecorum did not lead to spinal abscesses. Chemically induced stress did not appear to increase the development of abscesses, but the researchers suggested that gut stress, which they did not test, may produce a different result.