21 Sunday July 2019
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1  Overview of Aspergillosis in Poultry 2 

Aspergillosis is a disease, usually of the respiratory system, of chickens, turkeys, and less frequently ducklings, pigeons, canaries, geese, and many other wild and pet birds. In chickens and turkeys, the disease may be endemic on some farms; in wild birds, it appears to be sporadic, frequently affecting only an individual bird. Instances of severe outbreaks are usually seen in birds 7–40 days old. (Also see Fungal Infections: Aspergillosis and see Pet Birds: Aspergillosis.)

Etiology and Epidemiology

Aspergillus fumigatus is a common cause of the disease. However, several other Aspergillus spp may be incriminated.

High mortality rates are seen in chicks and poults that inhale large numbers of spores during hatching in contaminated incubators or when placed on mold-bearing litter. In older birds, infection is caused primarily by inhalation of sporeladen dust from contaminated litter or feed or dusty range areas. Morbidity can be underestimated in finishing flocks until slaughter inspection reveals pulmonary lesions.

Clinical Findings and Lesions

Dyspnea, hyperpnea, somnolence and other signs of nervous system involvement, inappetence, emaciation, and increased thirst may be seen. In chicks or poults up to 6 wk, the lungs are most frequently involved. Airsacculitis in young mature turkeys is a leading cause of postmortem condemnation. Pulmonary lesions are characterized by cream-colored plaques a few mm to several cm in diameter; occasionally, mycelial masses may be seen within the air passages on gross examination. The plaques also may be found in the syrinx, air sacs, liver, intestines, and occasionally the brain. The encephalitic form is most common in turkeys. An ocular form, in which large plaques may be expressed from the medial canthus, has been seen in chickens and turkeys.