Necrotic enteritis (NE) is an increasingly common enteritis of chickens, especially broiler chickens. The disease is caused by the bacterium Clostridium perfringens
, type A and C, which produce alpha and beta toxins. These toxins cause necrosis of the chicken’s intestinal lining. This disease has been associated with concurrent outbreaks of coccidiosis and less often, ascariasis (roundworms).
Poor management is thought to be a key component of the development of NE outbreaks in chickens. Any factor that causes increased stress can suppress the chicken's immune system and offset the balance of flora in their gastrointestinal system, resulting in high levels of C. perfringens
to develop. Some of the factors identified to increase the risk of NE in chickens include:
- Rough handling and abuse by farm workers.
- Mycotoxins: Chronic consumption of deoxynivalenol (DON) mycotoxins, which are a frequent contaminate of poultry feeds.
- Poor sanitary practices
- Concurrent infection with intestinal parasites
- Nutrition: Diet with high levels of non-starch polysaccharides, protein, fishmeal or coarse material.
Outbreaks of NE in chicken flocks are sporadic and the clinical illness of NE is short, with birds dying within a day of when initial clinical signs are first observed.