Outbreak of encephalitic listeriosis in red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa)

Jeckel, S J and Wood, A and Grant, K and Amar, C and King, S A and Whatmore, A M and Koylass, M and Anjum, M and James, J and Welchman, D D B (2015) Outbreak of encephalitic listeriosis in red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa). Avian Pathology, 44 (4). pp. 269-277.

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Abstract

An outbreak of neurological disease was investigated in red-legged partridges between 8 and 28 days of age. Clinical signs included torticollis, head tilt and incoordination and over an initial eight day period approximately 30–40 fatalities occurred per day. No significant gross post mortem findings were detected. Histopathological examination of the brain and bacterial cultures followed by partial sequencing confirmed a diagnosis of encephalitis due to Listeria monocytogenes. Further isolates were obtained from follow-up carcasses, environmental samples and pooled tissue samples of newly imported day-old chicks prior to placement on farm. These isolates had the same antibiotic resistance pattern as the isolate of the initial post mortem submission and belonged to the same fluorescent amplified fragment length polymorphism (fAFLP) subtype. This suggested that the isolates were very closely related or identical and that the pathogen had entered the farm with the imported day-old chicks, resulting in disease manifestation in partridges between 8 and 28 days of age. Reports of outbreaks of encephalitic listeriosis in avian species are rare and this is to the best of our knowledge the first reported outbreak in red-legged partridges.