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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae contamination in the poultry house environment during erysipelas outbreaks in organic laying hen flocks

Eriksson, Helena; Bagge, Elisabeth; Båverud, Viveca; Fellström, Claes; Jansson, Monica Desiree Seger


This study investigated organic laying hen farms for the presence of Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae in the house environment and from potential carriers (i.e. insects and mice) during ongoing erysipelas outbreaks, and compared the obtained isolates with those from laying hens. The samples were investigated by selective culture followed by species-specific polymerase chain reaction on cultures. E. rhusiopathiae was isolated from the spleen, jejunal contents, manure, dust and swabs from water nipples. Three more samples from the house environment tested positive by polymerase chain reaction compared with selective culture alone. Selected isolates were investigated by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS). One farm was represented by isolates from laying hens only, and one of these isolates differed in one PFGE band from the others. Different banding patterns were observed for isolates from laying hens and manure on one farm. On the remaining two farms, the isolates from the house environment and laying hens were identical but differed between farms. Outbreaks reoccurred in the next flock on two of the farms, and different PFGE types were isolated from consecutive flocks. Our results suggest an external source of infection, which would explain the previously reported increased risk of outbreaks in free-range flocks. Contaminated manure and dust may represent sources of transmission. For the isolates, MALDI-TOF MS and biochemical typing results were in agreement but, since the type strain of Erysipelothrix tonsillarum was typed as E. rhusiopathiae using MALDI-TOF MS, further studies into this method are needed.

Published in

Avian Pathology
2014, Volume: 43, number: 3, pages: 231-237

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            Animal and Dairy Science
            Clinical Science

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