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Intestinal spirochaetes (Brachyspira spp.) colonizing flocks of layer and breeder chickens in Malaysia

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Avian intestinal spirochaetosis causes problems including delayed onset of lay and wet litter in adult chickens, and results from colonization of the caecae/rectum with pathogenic intestinal spirochaetes (genus Brachyspira). Because avian intestinal spirochaetosis has not previously been studied in South East Asia, this investigation was undertaken in Malaysia. Faecal samples were collected from 25 farms and a questionnaire was administered. Brachyspira species were detected by polymerase chain reaction in 198 of 500 (39%) faecal samples from 20 (80%) farms, including 16 (94%) layer and four (50%) breeder farms. Pathogenic Brachyspira pilosicoli was identified in five (29%) layer and two (25%) breeder farms whilst pathogenic Brachyspira intermedia was detected in nine (53%) layer and one (12.5%) of the breeder farms. Twelve (80%) layer farms had egg production problems and 11 (92%) were positive for Brachyspira: three (25%) for B. pilosicoli and six (50%) for B. intermedia. Of three breeder farms with egg production problems, one was colonized with B. pilosicoli. Three of ten layer farms with wet litter were positive for B. pilosicoli and six for B. intermedia. Of four breeder farms with wet litter, one was colonized with B. pilosicoli and one with B. intermedia. No significant associations were found between colonization and reduced egg production or wet litter, perhaps because so many flocks were colonized. A significant association (P = 0.041) occurred between a high prevalence of colonization and faecal staining of eggs. There were significant positive associations between open-sided housing (P = 0.006), and flocks aged >40 weeks (P < 0.001) and colonization by pathogenic species.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Publication date: November 2, 2014

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