JPC SYSTEMIC PATHOLOGY
Signalment (JPC Accession # 1782711): A quail
HISTORY: Tissue from a large flock of quail that suffered a loss of 20-50 birds over a 2-week period. The birds seemed to be fine at night and then were found dead the next morning. Treatment with tetracycline in the drinking water for three days appeared to stop the deaths.
HISTOPATHOLOGIC DESCRIPTION: Small intestine: Multifocally and circumferentially, there is marked loss of normal mucosal villar architecture with replacement by a thick coagulum of necrotic debris, fibrin and hemorrhageand numerous colonies of 1x4 um bacilli that occasionally contain 1 um, oval, subterminal spores, high numbers of macrophages, lymphocytes, and fewer heterophils (diphtheritic membrane). Adjacent less affected villi are multifocally eroded, ,ulcerated, blunted and/or fused, and remaining mucosal epithelial cells are often either brightly eosinophilic, angular and shrunken with pyknotic nuclei (necrosis) or swollen with microvacuolated cytoplasm (degeneration). Multifocally expanding the remaining lamina propria or extending transmurally through the intestinal wall are numerous heterophils, macrophages, lymphocytes, plasma cells, and erythrocytes, admixed with fibrin and edema. Multifocally, adventitial vessels are markedly congested.
MORPHOLOGIC DIAGNOSIS: Small intestine: Enteritis, ulcerative and necrotizing, subacute, diffuse, severe, with intralesional colonies of bacilli, quail, avian.
ETIOLOGIC DIAGNOSIS: Clostridial enteritis
CAUSE: Clostridium colinum
CONDITION: Ulcerative enteritis
SYNONYM: Quail disease
- Acute ulcerative enteritis and necrotizing hepatitis causing sudden death in young captive or wild game birds, young quail, grouse, turkeys, chickens, partridge, pigeons, pheasants; does not affect water fowl
- Quail (particularly bob-white quail) are among the most susceptible
- Gram positive, spore forming, pleomorphic (straight or slightly curved rods with rounded ends), anaerobic, non-motile bacterium
- Young birds, 4-12 weeks old (but can occur in adults as well)
- Outbreaks in chickens often accompany or follow coccidiosis, chicken infectious anemia virus (circovirus), infectious bursal disease (birnavirus) or stress conditions
- Fecal-oral transmission: bacteria adhere to intestinal villi > cause inflammation > ulceration in small to upper large intestine > bacteria move onto liver, if bird survives
- Localizes in liver and spleen; causes hepatic necrosis
- Toxin has not been implicated
TYPICAL CLINICAL FINDINGS:
- Similar to coccidiosis ( brunetti in chicken): Listlessness, droopy wings, anemia, diarrhea, bloody feces
- Quail usually pass distinctive white watery droppings; chronic carriers with diarrhea and emaciation occur
- Mortality varies with species (10% in chickens, up to 100% in quail)
- Sudden death may occur in fat, well-muscled quail with feed still in the crop
- Notable emaciation with atrophy of pectoral muscle in chronic cases
TYPICAL GROSS FINDINGS:
- Intestine: (including ceca):
- Marked duodenal hemorrhagic enteritis with small punctate mucosal ulcers surrounded by hemorrhagic halo
- Full thickness ulceration may also occur
- In turkeys: necrotic, diphtheritic membrane in case of extensive ulceration
- Perforation/peritonitis may occur
- Acute lesions are characterized by marked hemorrhagic enteritis in the duodenum
- When present: large, multifocal, yellow-gray foci sometimes surrounded by a pale yellow halo
- When present: enlarged and hemorrhagic
TYPICAL LIGHT MICROSCOPIC FINDINGS:
- Acute: mucosal erosion, edema of intestinal wall, vascular congestion, heterophilic infiltration of lamina propria; lumen contains desquamated mucosal epithelium with hemorrhage, coagulative necrosis and & bacterial rods; diphtheritic membrane formation
- Chronic: ulceration involves villi and extend into submucosa, with pseudomembrane formation; adjacent epithelial cells show coagulation necrosis
- Vascular fibrin & bacterial thrombosis are consistent findings in both acute and chronic lesions
- Ulcers often surrounded by granulocytes and mononuclear inflammatory cells
- Centrilobular or diffuse, pinpoint coagulative hepatic necrosis with gram-positive bacteria
- Variable splenic necrosis in quail
- Presumptive diagnosis with typical gross lesions (ulcerations in ceca and intestine, hepatic necrosis and enlarged hemorrhagic spleen)
- Culture of liver, spleen, intestinal contents
- Fluorescent antibody: Highly specific
- Coccidiosis: Often seen with, or confused with, ulcerative enteritis; does not cause focal liver necrosis or an enlarged hemorrhagic spleen
- Hemorrhagic enteritis in turkey poults (avian adenovirus type 2): Intranuclear inclusion bodies
- Necrotic enteritis (Clostridium perfringens type A or C): No liver lesions, quail not affected; causitive subtype associated with NetB gene positivity, which is responsible for producing pore forming compound
- Histomonas meleagridis: Produces caseous cecal cores and necrotic targetoid hepatic lesions; histomonads visible in liver and spleen histologically; does not induce small intestinal lesions
- Clostridium perfringens type A: Necrotic enteritis in poultry; clinically and pathologically indistinguishable from colinum.
- The invasive or enterotoxigenic clostridia causing diseases in animals include:
- colinum: Ulcerative enteritis in young game birds, turkeys, chickens and psittacines
- perfringens: yellow lamb disease (type A); lamb dysentery/hemorrhagic enteritis (type B); “Struck” in adult sheep, hemorrhagic enteritis in neonates(type C); pulpy kidney disease or overeating disease and encephalomalacia in sheep and goats (type D)
- haemolyticum: Bacterial icterohemoglobinuria (Bovine bacillary hemoglobinuria) or Redwater disease (cattle)
- novyi: Black disease (sheep); Malignant edematous disease in other animals
- chauvoei: Blackleg (cattle and sheep)
- septicum: Braxy (sheep); malignant edematous infection in other species; necrotizing dermatitis in poultry
- spiroforme: Spontaneous, antibiotic-induced enterotoxemia in rabbits
- villosum: Subcutaneous abscesses (cats)
- difficile: Antibiotic-induced enterocolitis (hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs); Naturally occurring enterocolitis (swine and foals)
- piliformis: (the only gram negative clostridium) bacilli; Tyzzer's disease; multiple animal species; liver, intestine and heart
- Abdul-Aziz T, Fletcher OJ, Barnes HJ. Avian Histopathology. 4th Jacksonville, FL: AAAP, Inc.; 2016:326.
- Beltran-Alcrudo D, Cardona C, McLellan L, et al. A Persistent Outbreak of Ulcerative Enteritis in Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus). Avian Diseases. 2008;52(3):531-6.
- Fulton RM. Ulcerative Enteritis. In: Boulianne M, ed. Avian Disease Manual. 7th Jacksonville, FL: AAAP Inc.;2013:137-138.
- Shivaprasad HL, Uzal F, Kokka R, Fisher DJ, McClane BA, and Songer AG. Ulcerative Enteritis-Like Disease Associated with Clostridium perfringens Type A in Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus). Avian Diseases. 2008;52(4):635-40.
- Rood JI, Keyburn AL, Moore RJ. NetB and necrotic enteritis: the hole movable story. Avian Pathol. 2016;45(3):295-301.
- Songer JG, Uzal F. Ulcerative Enteritis. In: Swayne DE, ed. Diseases of Poultry. 13th Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press;2013:943-949.