Diagnosis of Poultry Diseases

Darrell W. Trampel, DVM, PhD, Extension Poultry Veterinarian and Poultry Diagnostician, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine

Iowa is the No. 1 egg producing state in America with over 52 million laying hens.  The egg industry continues to grow in this state and Hy-Line International is the worlds largest source of genetics for egg-type chickens.   Iowa produces approximately 8.0 million turkeys per year.  A significant broiler industry is centered around Agri-Processors in Postville, IA which is a kosher processing plant.  Iowa has the one of the nations largest producer of quail eggs and chicks and this countrys largest producer of Hungarian partridge.
A certain degree of mortality is associated with commercial production of poultry.  For example, livability of turkeys between placement in the brooder house as poults and marketing at 18 weeks is approximately 90%.  In addition to diseases that cause mortality, other subclinical disease conditions exist that do not kill the birds but reduce the rate of gain and feed efficiency of a flock.
A major part of the job responsibilities of the ISU extension poultry veterinarian is to provide diagnostic assistance to Iowas commercial poultry producers, gamebird producers, and owners of small-scale or hobby flocks.  In addition, Dr. Trampel serves as the co-oordinator of three state-wide poultry disease surveillance programs: a) Avian Influenza in turkey and chicken flocks; b) Salmonella enteritidis monitoring of commercial egg-type chicken flocks; and c) Avian pneumovirus monitoring of commercial turkey flocks.
The poultry diagnostic cases from January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2005 are listed below.
Diagnostic Cases (January 1, 2005 - December 31, 2005). 

Report Name Total accessions
Antibiotics-Chlortetracyclin QUAN                 1
Antibiotics-Oxytetracyclin-QUAN 1
Antibiotics-Tylosin-QUAN                          1
Avian influenza AGID                              24
Avian influenza AGID - 1                          860
Avian influenza AGID - EY                         26
Avian Influenza ELISA                             40
Avian Influenza H5 (U of GA)                      10
Avian Pneumovirus ELISA                           510
Avian Pneumovirus IFA (NVSL) 109
Bacterial ID Extended                             25
Bacterial ID Short                                49
Calcium in Serum/Plasma/Eye/Water 1
Chloride in fluids                                1
Comments                                          22
Culture Saved                                     11
Culture Summary                                   2
Custom Chemistry                                  1
Egg Culture -  Negative                           6
Egg Culture - Positive                            1
Egg Culture - Suspicious                          1
Fecal Flotation - sugar                           1
Hematoxylin and Eosin Slides                      175
Magnesium in fluids                               1
Necropsy (juvenile - adult)                       143
Necropsy (neonate - fetus)                        11
Nitrite or Nitrate in water                       1
Past multocida somatic typing (NADC) 3
pH                                                1
Poultry - Salmonella Enviromental Negative  250
Poultry - Salmonella Enviromental Positive 207
Poultry - Salmonella Enviromental Suspicious 236
Poultry Susceptibility                            32
Poultry Susceptibility                            60
PRRS virus ELISA                                  1
Referral (NVSL)                                   1
Rotavirus AgELISA                                 8
Routine Culture                                   106
Routine Culture                                   115
Salmonella Id                                     23
Salmonella Identification (NVSL)                  208
Serogrouping Lancefield & Salmonella 1
Slant Request                                     1
Sodium in fluids                                  1
Special Culture (Nasal Feces Semen Other) 4
Special Stains Immunohistochemistry               7
Sulfate in Water                                  1
Tetra enrichment                                  19
Total 1551

The Extension Poultry Veterinarian handled a total of 1,551 cases.  Electronic records from the ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory indicate that 159 cases involved necropsy of poultry and that 177 cases involved histopathology. 
This work provides vital support for Iowas poultry and gamebird industries in general as well as for specific companies, such as Hy-Line International.  Poultry producers receive individual attention and the most rapid diagnoses that science will allow.  A rapid diagnosis permits early intervention via vaccination, antibiotic therapy, or management changes which greatly reduce the morbidity and mortality in affected flocks.  In addition to protecting bird health, monitoring programs for avian influenza and Salmonella enteritidis are potential zoonotic diseases and ongoing surveillance programs are important for protecting public health.

August 2006
POW # 121 - Adding Value and Enhancing Agricultural Products

Page last updated: August 29, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu