The present report describes an outbreak of Pullorum disease in a young layer parent stock in Austria. The flock, which comprised 14,220 Lohmann brown layer chickens, experienced high mortality from the first week of life, reaching a total of 1905 chickens in the fifth week, when the flock was depopulated. Clinical signs included uneven size of the chicks, pasty vents, apathy, and diminished water and feed intake, with some birds presenting central nervous system signs such as tremors and torticollis. The postmortem investigation of 43 birds, of ages 1 to 4 weeks, revealed retained yolk sacs filled with caseous exudate, purulent airsacculitis, hepatitis with whitish pinpoint coalescing necrotic foci, splenitis with splenomegaly, hemorrhagic-mucoid enteritis in the small intestine, fibrinous typhlitis, nephromegaly, and urate deposits in the ureters and cloaca. Inflammation and/or necrosis were identified in liver, spleen, kidney, small intestine, and heart by histopathology. However, no histopathologic lesions were observed in the brain. Salmonella enterica was isolated from heart, liver, spleen, and brain in pure culture. Group-specific serotyping determined the presence of group D, with S. enterica subspecies enterica serovar Gallinarum being confirmed based on the Kauffmann-White scheme. A duplex PCR further identified S. enterica subspecies enterica serovar Gallinarum biovar Pullorum as the responsible agent for the outbreak. Subsequently, the grandparent flocks, from which the affected flock originated, were tested and found to be negative for Salmonella Pullorum, with no other progenies from the same grandparents developing disease. Although the source of the pathogen could not be identified, such findings highlight the importance of “old” pathogens such as Salmonella Pullorum causing sudden high mortality in chicks, even in a highly controlled environment.
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Vol. 65 • No. 1