Ulcerative enteritis-like disease associated with Clostridium perfringens type A in bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus)

Avian Dis. 2008 Dec;52(4):635-40. doi: 10.1637/8341-050108-Reg.1.


Ulcerative enteritis-like disease due to Clostridium perfringens type A was attributed as the cause of mortality in excess of 50% in a flock of 1000, 10-to-16-wk-old bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus). Clinical signs in these birds ranged from sudden death to listlessness, depression, watery white droppings, ruffled feathers, loss of weight, and death in a few days. Necropsy of 30 birds revealed multiple deep ulcers of the mucosa throughout the small intestine and ceca, some with perforation and subsequent coelomitis (peritonitis). The livers in some birds contained white foci of necrosis, and many birds had enlarged and congested spleens. Microscopic lesions included multifocal severe fibrinosuppurative ulcerative enteritis associated with large numbers of rod-shaped gram-positive bacteria, and necrotizing hepatitis with or without rod-shaped bacteria. Anaerobic culturing of the intestine and liver yielded pure cultures of C. perfringens. The C perfringens isolates were of genotype A and were polymerase chain reaction-positive for alpha toxin and for cpb2, the structural gene for beta2 toxin. Repeated attempts to isolate C colinum by using a specialized medium containing 8% horse plasma were not fruitful, suggesting that the enteritis and hepatitis in these birds were produced by C pefringens. Retrospective examination of records of quail submissions to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System over 16 yr revealed at least nine quail submissions in which isolation of C. perfringens from the liver, intestine, or both was associated with ulcerative enteritis and hepatitis in quail. This is the first description of ulcerative enteritis-like disease in quail associated with C perfringens. Final conclusions await experimental reproduction of the disease.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clostridium Infections / microbiology
  • Clostridium Infections / pathology
  • Clostridium Infections / veterinary*
  • Clostridium perfringens*
  • Colinus / microbiology*
  • Enteritis / microbiology
  • Enteritis / pathology
  • Enteritis / veterinary*
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Liver / microbiology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Poultry Diseases / microbiology*
  • Poultry Diseases / pathology
  • Ulcer / microbiology
  • Ulcer / pathology
  • Ulcer / veterinary*