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Pathogenesis of Gallibacterium anatis in a natural infection model fulfils Koch’s postulates: 2. Epididymitis and decreased semen quality are the predominant effects in specific pathogen free cockerels

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Pathogenesis of Gallibacterium anatis was investigated in specific pathogen free cockerels. Birds aged 35 weeks were infected intranasally with G. anatis whereas negative controls were left uninfected. Following infection, necropsy, bacteriological and histopathological investigations were performed in birds killed at 3, 7, 10, 28 and 38 days post infection (d.p.i.). Additionally, semen samples were collected twice a week until 5 weeks post infection for quality assessment. No clinical signs and gross pathological lesions were seen throughout the experiment. Bacteriological investigation revealed that G. anatis colonized the upper respiratory tract at 3 d.p.i. and could be isolated from testis and epididymis at 7 d.p.i. onwards. Bacterial persistence was found in the respiratory tract, gut and testis until the termination of the study at 38 d.p.i. Furthermore, G. anatis was isolated from semen arguing for the possibility of vertical transmission. Histopathological examination showed infiltration of mononuclear cells in epididymal tissue, indicating an inflammation. Density, total motility, progressive motility and membrane integrity of sperms were significantly decreased in infected birds as compared with control chickens. Along with these findings, an increase in spermatozoa with morphological defects was observed at different time points. In conclusion, the present study provides novel data on the impact of a G. anatis infection in cockerels in a natural infection model, thus helping to elucidate bacterial distribution, pathological lesions as well as influences on semen quality.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Clinic for Poultry and Fish Medicine, Department for Farm Animals and Veterinary Public Health, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Vienna, Austria 2: Center for Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Vienna, Austria

Publication date: November 2, 2014

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