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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: NOVEL THERAPEUTIC, DIAGNOSTIC, AND MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES TO REDUCE ANTIBIOTIC USE IN POULTRY PRODUCTION

Location: Poultry Production and Products Safety Research

Title: Dexamethasone immunosuppression results in turkey clostridial dermatitis: A retrospective analysis of 7 studies, 1998 - 2009

Authors
item HUFF, GERALDINE
item HUFF, WILLIAM
item RATH, NARAYAN

Submitted to: Avian Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 11, 2013
Publication Date: June 13, 2013
Citation: Huff, G.R., Huff, W.E., Rath, N.C. 2013. Dexamethasone immunosuppression results in turkey clostridial dermatitis: A retrospective analysis of 7 studies, 1998 - 2009. Avian Diseases. 57:730-736.

Interpretive Summary: We have determined that stress can affect the immune system of turkeys, resulting in a bacterial disease called turkey osteomyelitis complex (TOC). We believe that production stressors can also cause an increase of bacteria moving from the intestine to the blood circulation and can make the skin more susceptible to infection, resulting in another disease named turkey clostridial dermatitis (CD). Some of the common characteristics between TOC and CD are that they are both caused by bacterial species that are prevalent in the environment, they are both most common in adolescent male birds, and in both diseases the affected birds are often large, healthy, and from the best performing flocks. Our TOC studies using chemical immunosupression result in a high incidence of CD lesions in turkeys that were given respiratory challenge with bacteria commonly present in the environment. The natural presence of Clostridia sp. in the poultry intestine and environment suggests that they may also have been involved in the infection. We suggest that a useful and repeatable model for CD can be developed by focusing on the ability of stress to increase wet litter conditions and cause fast growing male turkeys to be more susceptible to bacterial infection.

Technical Abstract: We have been studying the etiology of turkey osteomyelitis complex (TOC) for the past 20 years and have determined that this syndrome is caused by the inability of some fast-growing male turkeys to cope with production stressors. While immunosuppressive viruses have often been associated with susceptibility to gangrenous dermatitis (cellulitis), we hypothesize that production stressors alone can also undermine resistance to opportunistic pathogens by both increasing bacterial translocation from the intestine and disrupting the skin’s antimicrobial barrier, resulting in the subcutaneous lesions referred to as cellulitis and recently named turkey clostridial dermatitis (CD). Some of the common characteristics between TOC and CD are that they are both caused by opportunistic bacterial species that are prevalent in the environment, they are both most common in adolescent male birds, and in both diseases the affected birds are often large, healthy, and from the best performing flocks. Our TOC studies using dexamethasone immunosupression result in a high incidence of cellulitis lesions in dead turkeys that were given either Escherichia coli or Staphylococcus aureus respiratory challenges. The natural presence of Clostridia sp. in the poultry intestine and environment suggests that they may also have been concomitant pathogens. We suggest that a useful and repeatable model for CD can be developed by focusing on the ability of stress to increase diuresis and wet litter conditions, and undermine both intestinal and cutaneous bacterial resistance in fast-growing male turkeys.

Last Modified: 8/19/2014
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