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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Quantification of IgY to Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae in serum from Swedish laying hens

Wattrang, Eva; Eriksson, Helena; Albihn, Ann; Dalgaard, Tina Sorensen


BackgroundErysipelas, caused by Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae (ER), is an important emerging disease in free-range and organic egg-production. The aim of the present study was to assess if quantification of ER specific IgY titers may aid the understanding of erysipelas in commercial laying hens. The methodology was validated with sequentially collected sera from experimentally ER infected SPF-chickens and subsequently applied on sera from Swedish commercial laying hens collected during and after outbreaks of erysipelas or collected at slaughter from healthy hens housed in furnished cages, barn production or in organic production (with outdoor access).ResultsIn experimentally infected SPF-chickens, titers to ER were significantly increased approximately one week after infection while IgY to ER in uninfected age-matched controls remained low. Also chickens infected with low doses of ER, not displaying clinical signs of disease and with low recovery of ER in blood samples showed high titers of IgY to ER. For laying hens during and after erysipelas outbreaks the majority of samples were considered positive for antibodies to ER with a large variation in levels of IgY titers to ER between individuals. For healthy laying hens at slaughter all samples were deemed positive for antibodies to ER. An influence of flock on levels of IgY titers to ER was observed for both healthy hens and hens during erysipelas outbreaks. For healthy laying hens at slaughter no influence of the housing systems included in the study, history of erysipelas outbreaks at the farm or vaccination on levels of IgY titers to ER was noticed.ConclusionsTaken together, these results show that high numbers of commercial laying hens showed high IgY titers to ER, comparable to those elicited by experimental ER infection, indicating that ER or bacteria that raises antibodies that cross-react with ER are common in this environment.


Erysipelas; Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae; Laying hen; IgY

Published in

BMC Veterinary Research
2021, Volume: 17, number: 1, article number: 111
Publisher: BMC

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        Clinical Science

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