Pasteurella multocida in scavenging family chickens and ducks: carrier status, age susceptibility and transmission between species

P G Mbuthia, L W Njagi, P N Nyaga, L C Bebora, U Minga, J Kamundia, J E Olsen
Avian Pathology: Journal of the W.V.P.A 2008, 37 (1): 51-7
Pasteurella multocida causes fowl cholera, a highly contagious and severe disease in chickens and water fowls. The disease is not well described in less intensive production systems, including scavenging family poultry production in developing countries. P. multocida was isolated from 25.9% of healthy-looking ducks and 6.2% of chickens from free-range family poultry farms and at slaughter slabs at market. On experimental infection with 1.2 to 2.0 x 10(8) organisms of the P. multocida type strain (NCTC 10322(T)), 12-week-old chickens expressed fowl cholera clinical signs significantly more times (372 signs) than those of 4-week-old, 8-week-old and 16-week-old chickens (173, 272 and 187 signs) and more signs were severe. In family ducks the 8-week-old birds expressed clinical signs significantly more times (188 signs) than those of the other age groups (117, 80, and 83 signs, respectively) and severe signs were more frequent. P. multocida transmitted from seeder birds (n=12) to sentinel birds (n=30), which developed clinical signs, and in some cases lesions of fowl cholera allowed bacterial re-isolation, whether infected ducks served as seeders for chickens or chickens served as seeder for ducks. This study has documented the occurrence of P. multocida among healthy-appearing family poultry in a tropical setting, and demonstrated that age susceptibility is highest in 12-week-old family chickens and 8-week-old family ducks when challenged with a low-virulent strain of P. multocida. It has further demonstrated that cross-transmission of fowl cholera may happen between family ducks and chickens, and vice versa.


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