SUMMARY.

Necrotic enteritis (NE) is an important enteric disease affecting a wide variety of avian species, including poultry, caused by Clostridium perfringens type G and, rarely, type C. Significant economic losses can result from elevated mortality rates and poor performance, such as decreased weight gain associated with intestinal damage and impaired absorption of nutrients. Additional losses can result from elevated condemnation at the processing plant because of a high incidence of cholangiohepatitis. Nonenteric lesions associated with NE have been rarely reported. This paper describes uncommon presentations of NE in commercial chickens received by the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory (Turlock and Tulare branches) between 2009 and 2018. Overall, extraintestinal lesions associated with C. perfringens were diagnosed in 25 cases of NE involving commercial broiler chickens. The extraintestinal sites most commonly affected included liver, followed by gizzard, bursa of Fabricius, gall bladder, and spleen. The etiology of these lesions, C. perfringens, was confirmed from a combination of gross, bacteriologic, microscopic, and immunohistochemical findings. The most common predisposing factors for NE identified were coccidiosis (56%, 14/25) and immunosuppressive disease agents, including infectious bursal disease virus (16%, 4/25) and fowl adenovirus group 1 (4%, 1/25). Additionally, four cases (16%) had microscopic lesions compatible with cystic enteritis, probably of viral etiology. This study describes the incidence of extraintestinal lesions of NE in chickens, underlying the role of enteric disorders and immunosuppression as major predisposing factors for the development of NE.

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