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Pathogen and Disease Prevalence, and Demographic Characteristics of Ontario Small Poultry Flocks

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Title: Pathogen and Disease Prevalence, and Demographic Characteristics of Ontario Small Poultry Flocks
Author: Brochu, Marie Diane Nancy
Department: Department of Pathobiology
Program: Pathobiology
Advisor: Susta, LeonardoGuerin, Michele
Abstract: Throughout Ontario, there has been an increase in the number of non-commercial poultry flocks (referred to as “small flock”), which is reflective of their raise in popularity throughout the country in the past few years. Despite this, information regarding the health and management of small flocks remains limited. Over a 2-year period, a prospective surveillance project of Ontario small poultry flocks was conducted by encouraging postmortem submissions to the Animal Health Laboratory, and by having participating owners fill a husbandry and biosecurity questionnaire. Postmortem examinations were performed on 245 birds from 160 submissions. Infectious causes of single-bird mortality accounted for 62% of deaths, with multifactorial respiratory disease (including Mycoplasma gallisepticum and synoviae, E. coli, Avibacterium spp., infectious laryngotracheitis, and infectious bronchitis) and Marek’s disease (11%) most common. Pre-set microbiology diagnostic tests, which were conducted on pooled samples from the 160 submissions, determined estimated prevalence for infectious bronchitis virus (39%), Brachyspira spp. (37%), Mycoplasma synoviae (36%), Campylobacter spp. (35%), fowl adenovirus (35%), Mycoplasma gallisepticum (23%), infectious laryngotracheitis virus (15%), avian reovirus (4%), Salmonella spp. (3%), and infectious bursal disease virus (1%). Low pathogenic H10N8 influenza A virus and non-virulent avian avulavirus 1 were respectively detected in 1 submission. Of 153 completed husbandry and biosecurity questionnaires (associated with submissions), owners most commonly kept small flocks composed of chickens (97%), waterfowl (22%), turkey (16%), and game birds (16%); birds were often kept as a source of food (69%). More than half of the flocks had indoor and outdoor access, and soft wood shavings were the most common bedding material provided (70%). Hand washing before (94%) and after (48%) contact were important biosecurity measures used by owners, while disinfecting of footwear was uncommon. The vaccination status of 21% of flocks was unknown while 42% were non-vaccinated. Medication had been administered to birds within the last 12-m by 61% of owners including various antibiotics (56 owners) and coccidiostats (32 owners). This work provides a baseline for the health status and selected viral and bacterial pathogen prevalence for Ontario small flocks while highlighting the need for increased biosecurity measures by their owners.
Date: 2019-05
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