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Erysipelas

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Introduction

A sudden onset infection with the bacterium Erysipelothrix insidiosa (E. rhusiopathiae) seen in turkeys and increasingly in free-range chickens, rarely in geese, ducks, pheasants. It is also seen in some mammals. It may be transmitted by faecal carriers for 41 days, in soil, water, fishmeal and semen and by cannibalism.

The bacterium is fairly resistant to environmental effects or disinfectants and may persist in alkaline soil for years. There is likely to be an increased risk if housing or land has been previously used by pigs or sheep.

Signs

  • Inappetance.
  • Depression.
  • Sleepiness.
  • Swollen snood.
  • May be diarrhoea and respiratory signs.
  • Perineal congestion.
  • Chronic scabby skin, especially snood.
  • Sudden death.

Post-mortem lesions

  • Carcase congestion.
  • Liver, kidney, spleen swollen.
  • Haemorrhages in fat, muscle, epicardium.
  • Marked catarrhal enteritis.
  • Joint lesions.
  • Endocarditis.

Diagnosis

Isolation on blood agar, and identification; the demonstration of the organism in stained impression smears from tissues.

Vaccination or natural infection may cause false positive reactions in the Mycoplasma gallisepticum and M. synoviae plate tests for a few weeks.

Differentiate from pasteurellosis, salmonellosis, colibacillosis, and acute Newcastle disease.

Treatment

Penicillin - a combination of the procaine and benzathine salts may be injected, often along with bacterin. Tetracyclines in feed may also be helpful.

Prevention

Good biosecurity to prevent spread from other susceptible species, vaccine at 16-20 weeks if the condition is enzootic.