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Salmonellosis

Salmonella Infection

Salmonellosis Overview


Salmonellosis is an important bacterial disease of poultry, caused by infection with Salmonella spp. Salmonella infections manifest as several diseases in chickens, depending on the Salmonella species responsible.
  • Arizonosis: Arizonosis is a septicemic disease of young chickens and turkeys, caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica subsp. arizonae (S. arizonae). The disease presents in both acute or chronic form and is characterized by septicemia, neurological signs and blindness.
  • Pullorum disease (PD): Pullorum disease, also referred to commonly as Bacillary White Diarrhea, is an acute systemic disease of young chicks, caused by infection with S. Pullorum. It is mainly a problem for newly hatched chicks, which begin to show clinical signs of infection within a couple weeks upon hatching. Chicks may be seen huddling under heat sources, making continuous faint chirping and peeping noises. These chicks will also develop white chalky droppings that cause them to develop white pasted vents (known commonly as 'pasty butt').
  • Fowl typhoid (FT): Fowl typhoid is an acute or chronic septicemic disease that usually is most significant in growing and adult chickens and turkeys. It is caused by infection with S. Gallinarum. Clinical signs differ depending on the severity of the infection. Infected chickens often will die 5-10 days following when they first develop clinical signs.
  • Paratyphoid (PT) Infection: Paratyphoid (PT) Infection is a common disease of chickens, usually more significant to younger chicks than for adults. It is caused by several different strains of Salmonella spp. The most common being S. Typhimurium and S. Enteritidis.
PD and FT testing has been incorporated into the requirements of the NPIP National Control Program, implemented in the United States to attempt to minimize the circulation of both diseases in flocks.

Transmission


Salmonella spp are both horizontally and vertically transmitted. They are spread through transovarian transmission from hens to to their offspring, contamination of the environment (soil, bedding, perches, nesting boxes, eggs, waterers, drinkers, etc.), mechanically through flying and biting insects, rodents, wild birds, introduction of new flock members, equipment, vehicle tire tread, clothing, unwashed hands, etc. Many animals, especially poultry and pigs, may be infected with Salmonella but show no signs of clinical illness. They are a significant source of spreading the disease among other flock members and potentially other animals and humans. This is because infected sub clinical carriers may shed the bacteria in large numbers within their feces, either continuously or intermittently, contaminating the environment.

Diagnosis


Samples of feed, water, or litter can be collected and tested for the presence of Salmonella. Sterile cotton swabs can be used for isolation. Cotton swabs can be dragged along litter to check for environmental contamination or be used to check breeder nests, laying cages or hatchery machines. There are a wide range of rapid Salmonella detection techniques, including enzyme immunoassay antigen capture assays, DNA probes, and immunofluorescence.

Clinical Signs

Drowsiness
Huddling together
Poor growth
Chalky white diarrhea w/ pasted vent
Dehydration
Reduced egg production
Death

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Isolation of the bacteria
  • Serology
  • PCR
  • ELISA
  • SAT
  • Necropsy

Treatment

NameSummary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
AntibioticsSpecific to the type of disease
ProbioticsAdministered in the form of oral supplements or yogurt

Prevention

  • Minimize or eliminate wild rodent populations near where chickens are kept
  • Ensure chicken feeders and waterers are protected from potential contamination by wild bird feces
  • Reduce biting fly populations
  • Do not hang wild bird feeders as they will attract wild birds which are own for transmitting a variety of parasites, viruses, bacteria, protozoa and fungi.

Scientific References

Good Overviews

Risk Factors

  • High populations of rodents or biting flying insects, or wild birds.
  • Stress - Can be caused by overcrowding birds, poor sanitation, feed deprivation, relocation of birds from another location, exposure to temperature extremes, chronic fear of predators, rough human handling, etc.
  • Age - Young (especially chicks less than 1 week of age), old, and unhealthy chickens are more susceptible to infection.