Merck Manual

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Professional Version

Fowl Typhoid

By

Sherrill Davison Yeakel

, VMD, MS, MBA, DACPV, Laboratory of Avian Medicine and Pathology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Medically Reviewed Oct 2019 | Modified Oct 2022

Etiology and Epidemiology of Fowl Typhoid

The causal agent of fowl typhoid is Salmonella enterica Gallinarum. The incidence of fowl typhoid is low in the USA, Canada, and some European countries but is much higher in other countries. Although S enterica Gallinarum is egg-transmitted and produces lesions in chicks and poults similar to those produced by S enterica Pullorum, there is a much greater tendency to spread among growing or mature flocks. Mortality in young birds is similar to that seen in S enterica Pullorum infection but may be higher in older birds.

Clinical Findings and Lesions of Fowl Typhoid

Fowl typhoid may be acute or chronic. Clinical signs and lesions in young birds are similar to those seen with S enterica Pullorum infection. Older birds may be pale, dehydrated, and have diarrhea.

Lesions in older birds may include:

  • a swollen, friable, and often bile-stained liver, with or without necrotic foci

  • an enlarged spleen and kidneys

  • anemia

  • enteritis

Diagnosis of Fowl Typhoid

  • Clinical signs and lesions of fowl typhoid are similar to S enterica Pullorum infection; therefore, diagnosis is confirmed by isolation and identification of the organism.

Diagnosis should be confirmed by isolation, identification, and serotyping of S enterica Gallinarum (National Poultry Improvement Plan testing procedure).

Treatment and Control of Fowl Typhoid

  • Control measures, outlined in the National Poultry Improvement Plan, are based on elimination of the disease. Treatment is never recommended.

Treatment and control are as for Pullorum disease Pullorum Disease in Poultry The historical name for this disease is bacillary white diarrhea. Pullorum disease is caused by Salmonella enterica Pullorum and is characterized by very high mortality in young chickens and... read more Pullorum Disease in Poultry . There are no federally licensed vaccines in the USA. In other countries, vaccines (killed or modified live) made from a rough strain of S enterica Gallinarum (9R) had variable results in controlling mortality. More recently, vaccines derived from outer membrane proteins, mutant strains, and a virulence-plasmid-cured derivative of S enterica Gallinarum have shown promise in protecting birds against challenge. The standard serologic tests for Pullorum disease also detect fowl typhoid.

Key Points

  • Clinical signs and lesions of S enterica Gallinarum in young chickens and turkeys are similar to those caused by S enterica Pullorum. including cecal cores and nodular lesions in the liver, spleen, lungs, heart, gizzard, and intestines.

  • Lesions in older birds include swollen, friable, bile-stained and necrotic lesions in the liver, in addition to enteritis and enlargement of the spleen and kidneys.

  • Confirmation of S enterica Pullorum is through isolation and identification. The National Poultry Improvement Plan outlines measures for elimination of the disease.

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