Diseases / List of Bacterial Diseases / Disease description:

Avian Cholera in Waterfowl and Cranes

INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL INFORMATION

CLINICAL CHARACTERISTICS & PATHOLOGY

INVESTIGATION & DIAGNOSIS

TREATMENT & CONTROL

SUSCEPTIBILITY & TRANSMISSION

ENVIRONMENT & GEOGRAPHY

 

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General and References

Disease Summary

An acute septicaemic disease which causes large die-offs of waterfowl each year in North America and also affects other birds.

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Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Fowl Cholera
  • Avian Pasteurellosis
  • Avian Haemorrhagic Septicemia
  • Pasteurella multocida Infection.

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Disease Type

 Bacterial Infection

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Infectious/Non-Infectious Agent associated with the Disease

Pasteurella multocida - three subspecies P.m. multocida, P.M. septica, P.m. gallicida and various serotypes. are associated with this disease. Capsular antigens A,B,D,E,F and somatic antigens 1-16 recognised. Mainly capsular antigen type A in birds and mostly somatic type antigen 1 reported in waterfowl, but also types 3 and 4 in the Atlantic flyway and 3, 4 and 12 in eiders Somateria mollisima in Maine (J1.19.w8, J1.26.w3, B15).

Infective "Taxa"

Non-infective agents

--

Physical agents

-- Indirect / Secondary

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References

Disease Author

Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Click image for main Reference Section

Major References / Reviews

Code and Title List

B10.26.w7,B11.34.w2, B11.37.w5, B11.39.w7, B13.46.w1, B15, B36.7.w7, B37.x.w1, B48.8.w8
J1.13.w9, J1.13.w10, J1.14.w3, J1.19.w8, J1.26.w3, J1.28.w3, J1.33.w5
J4.108.w1, J4.108.w2
J5.24.w5, J5.32.w2
J6.24.w1
J7.42.w1
P2.47.w1
J40.30.w1

Cranes
B214.3.28.w17, B702.19.w19
J1
.8.w3, J1.13.w9, J40.52.w2
P1.1991.w9, P62.12.w1, P87.4.w4, P87.4.w5, P87.7.w15

Other References

Code and Title List

B6.9.w1
J1.14.w3, J1.15.w6, J1.19.w4
J3.104.w1
J27.54.w1

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Clinical Characteristics and Pathology

Detailed Clinical and Pathological Characteristics

General

Generally peracute to acute septicaemic disease, seen in outbreaks, with no gross lesions or petechiae, particularly over the heart, and sometimes pinpoint pale foci in the liver.

Clinical Characteristics

  • Found dead.
  • A few birds may be found in the agonal stages.
  • The number of birds seen sick increases during a prolonged die-off. (B36.7.w7)
  • Lethargic or drowsy. (B36.7.w7)
  • When captured, birds usually die within seconds to minutes. (B36.7.w7)
  • Birds may develop convulsions or swim in circles, or throw their head back. (B36.7.w7)
  • Birds may fly erratically, e.g. upside down, plunge into the water or land, and try to land abover the actual surface.
  • Other signs include: mucoid oral discharge, blood-stained nasal discharge, pasty yellow, fawn or blood-stained droppings, soiling and matting of the feathers around the eye, bill and vent. (B36.7.w7)

(J1.8.w3)

WATERFOWL
  • Frequently just found dead. Dead birds may be found sitting in sternal recumbency with head upright or slightly raised. During an outbreak, dead birds are much more numerous than ill birds. Birds may also literally drop dead while flying or feeding, fly upside down, appear disorintated and appear to aim to land either above or below the actual surface of the land or water.
  • May appear drowsy/lethargic and be closely approachable then often die quickly (seconds to minutes) once caught. Anorexia may be noted. 
  • May have convulsions, swim in circles or throw head back before dying.
    • Terminal convulsions may include slow wing beating, opisthotonus, and spreading of the wings, legs and tail. (J1.13.w9)
  • Other signs include: mucous discharge from mouth, matting and soiling of feathers around vent, eyes and bill, diarrhoea or pasty and fawn/yellow droppings, sometimes blood-stained.
  • May see clear nasal discharge at time of death.
  • Occasionally chronic wasting, dyspnoea and diarrhoea in individual older captive birds.
  • Carriers occur with no clinical signs.
  • One snow goose which was found sick appeared to recover but died suddenly three months later. (J1.8.w3)

(J1.8.w3, J1.13.w9, J4.108.w1, B10.26.w7, B11.34.w2, B11.37.w5, B11.39.w7, B13.46.w1, B15, B36.7.w7, B37.x.w1, B48.8.w8, B10.26.w7)

CRANES
  • Found dead. (P62.12.w1)
  • May be lethargic or drowsy if seen alive, or show abnormal behaviour - convulsions, erratic flight etc.) before death. (P62.12.w1)
  • A free-living Grus americana - Whooping crane was debilitated and had acute otitis with ear exudate. (P1.1991.w9, P87.4.w5)
    • Initial signs included remaining at the roost site rather than leaving to feed, and reduced feeding. Facial swelling developed on the seventh day, the left eye becoming swollen shut on the following day; three days later the swelling had decreased and the eye opened, but the crane was listless, anorectic and reluctant to fly. It made repeated stereotypical pecking movements, but without eating; its breast feathers appeared ruffled.
    • Clinical examination following capture revealed moderate weight loss, greenish watery faeces, a respiratory rate of 20/minute, heart rate 120/min, cloacal temperature 38.3 °C. Specific signs included high pitched squeaking sounds over the posterior thoracic and abdominal air sacs on auscultation, and whitish inspissated purulent plugs filling both ears, with mucoid exudate behind the plugs extending deep into the middle ear, the tympanic membranes being obliterated. (P87.4.w5)

Incubation

  • Usually hours to 1-2 days. (B36.7.w7)
  • Scavengers often die only after days to 1-2 weeks. (B36.7.w7)
WATERFOWL Usually peracute to acute. Deaths commonly 24-28 hours post infection, can be 6-12 hours. Death usually in minutes after sickness noticed (J1.13.w9, J4.108.w1, B10.26.w7, B15, B36.7.w7, B37.x.w1, B48.8.w8).
CRANES --

Mortality / Morbidity

  • Variable, including e.g. 50% mortality in poultry. (B36.7.w7)
  • During an epornitic in California, percentages of different bird species affected included 2.4% of coots, 1.2% of bald eagles (one of 87), 0.2-7.3% of different duck species. (J1.8.w3)
WATERFOWL
  • Mortality can be high e.g. 50%, even 80% in areas of high population density (B13.46.w1, B36.7.w7).
  • During an epornitic in California, percentages of waterfowl species dying ranged from 0.2% for ducks to 1.4% for white-fronted geese, 3.9% for whistling swans and 7.3% for Ross's geese. (J1.8.w3)
  • An outbreak in domestic gees killed 80% of the flock. (B36.7.w7)
  • Note: The proportion of waterfowl developing disease following infection is unknown. (J1.28.w3)
CRANES
  • In most reported outbreaks, only a few cranes (3-4) have died per event, in events involving thousands of waterfowl. (J40.52.w2)
  • During an epornitic in California, 1970-1971, 10 of an estimated 5,600 Grus canadensis - Sandhill crane in the area died (0.2%). (J1.8.w3)

Pathology

BIRDS GROSS PATHOLOGY:

Acute Disease:

  • General: Good body condition, with abundant fat.
  • Hepatic: focal necrosis (small, discrete yellowish spots, which may vary in size).
  • Cardiac: petechial haemorrhages - these may be absent, minor, or extensive.
  • GIT: Intestines may contain yellowish gelatinous fluid.

(B36.7.w7 - full text included, J1.8.w3)

WATERFOWL GROSS PATHOLOGY:

Acute Disease:

  • The most prominent lesions are seen on the heart, liver, and less frequently the gizzard.
  • There may be no lesions with peracute disease, or just scattered petechiae, particularly on the heart. Septicaemia and endotoxin release produce fever, systemic hypertension, sometimes disseminated intravascular coagulation, shock and death.
  • General - Usually in good condition (depending on season).
  • Respiratory - Thick, mucoid nasal discharge.
  • Lungs may be congested, occasionally consolidated. Sometimes appear oedematous due to terminal aspiration of water.
  • Heart - Petechiae and sometimes ecchymotic haemorrhages over epicardium and at the coronary band.
  • Liver - Pinpoint to pinhead white to yellow necrotic foci, also petechiae. With acute rather than peracute disease, may be darkened or copper-toned, swollen and friable and necrotic areas may be larger.
  • Spleen - Occasionally swollen, sometimes with necrotic foci.
  • Gastro-intestinal tract - Haemorrhages on surface of gizzard, which may contain food. Congested veins. Frequently catarrhal enteritis; thick gelatinous or mucoid clear to yellowish fluid may dilate intestines. Sometimes intestinal haemorrhage. Intestines usually contain no food.
  • Musculature - sometimes haemorrhagic areas in pectoral muscles.

Histopathology:

  • Non-specific. Numerous bacteria in vasculature. Hyperaemia, necrosis and early inflammatory cell infiltration in many organs, e.g. spleen, liver. Mucosal haemorrhage in intestines. Lung congestion. Multifocal microhaemorrhage and vascular thrombi may be found in the cerebellum, sometimes diffuse fibrinous meningitis.

Chronic Disease:

  • Poor general condition.
  • Fibrinopurulent pleurisy, pericarditis, airsacculitis; pulmonary consolidation and haemorrhage. Unilateral ocular lesions (corneal opacity, corneal ulceration, lens prolapse) recorded in experimental infection.
  • Salpingitis, with or without associated peritonitis has been reported in domestic ducks and geese from which Pasteurella multocida was recovered in pure culture (J6.24.w1)

(J1.13.w9, J4.108.w1, J5.24.w5, B10.26.w7, B15, B36.7.w7, B37.x.w1, B48.8.w8)

CRANES
  • In a Grus americana - Whooping crane injured by a bobcat in Florida in 2000, with septicaemia due to Pasteurella multocida somatic serotype 1:
    • Spleen: necrotic areas. (B702.19.w19)

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Human Health Considerations

Not high risk from avian strains. Avoid wound contamination (by wearing gloves and by thorough washing) and respiratory tract exposure (e.g. stand up-wind of burning carcasses) (B36.7.w7).

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Susceptibility / Transmission

General information on Susceptibility / Transmission

BIRDS Susceptibility:
  • Susceptibility and the development of acute or chronic disease are affected by "sex, age, genetic variation, immune status from previous exposure, concurrent infection, nutritional status, and other aspects of the host; strain virulence and other aspects of the bacterium; and dose and route of exposure." (B36.7.w7)
  • Many species of waterfowl (ducks, geese and swans) have been infected, but also gulls and skuas, shorebirds, herons, egrets etc., diurnal and nocturnal birds of prey, gallinaceous brds, loons, grebes, penguins, cormorants, pelicans, coots, rails, cranes, auks, doves/pigeons, swifts, woodpeckers, martins, corvids (crows, jays, magpies), nuthatches, thrushes/thrashers, waxwings, sparrows, starlings, grackles, finches and orioles. (B36.7.w7)
  • Susceptibility may be increased by: (J1.28.w3)
    • Sublethal exposure to mycotoxins; (J1.28.w3)
    • Stress associated with overcrowding; (J1.28.w3)
      • Probably abnormally dense congregations of migratory waterfowl on staging areas and wintering areas now occur, due to loss of wetlands, development of refuges and/or local food abundance associated with agriculture. (J1.28.w3)
    • Parasitism, increased by overcrowding; (J1.28.w3)
    • Nutritional deficiencies, which may occur for example in waterfowl and cranes which are dependent on supplied grain which does not provide a balanced diet. (J1.28.w3)

Transmission

  • Bird-to-bird direct contact, and transmission from the contaminated environment, probably are the major transmission routes. (J1.28.w3)
  • Environmental concentration of bacteria may be increased (accumulate) when infected birds spend long periods in one location rather than moving. (J1.28.w3)
  • Direct bird-to-bird contact and transmission of infected secretions may occur e.g. if birds are fighting over food.
  • Ingestion of the organism in contaminated food and water (including consumption of infected carcasses by scavengers/predators, and contaminated environments from secretions (e.g. nasal discharge) from infected birds. This is probably the main route of transmission. 
  • In highly contaminated environments (e.g. during major die-offs), activities such as splashing of the water may create infective aerosols.
  • Biting insects may act as mechanical vectors, feeding on contaminated carcasses or environments then biting a bird.
  • Birds may eat insects such as maggots which contain bacteria the insects have ingested while feeding.
  • Biting is not normally an important route, but may occur in some turkey flocks. Non-fatal infected bites from small carnivores e.g. raccoons could result in systemic infection which possibly could initiate an avian cholera outbreak.
  • Spread may occur via fomites (contaminated cages, clothing, vehicles etc.)
  • Carrier birds may initiate outbreaks. 

(B36.7.w7)

WATERFOWL Transmission: Direct and indirect contact.
  • Main source is environmental contamination, particularly of water, from infected birds and carcasses. Acutely infected birds may discharge millions of bacteria into the environment, particularly in nasal secretions (e.g. 15 mL from one goose at death), with further contamination when carcasses are opened by scavengers. Chronically infected birds shed bacteria in oral secretions and may continue shedding throughout their lifetime. Bacteria may be present in high concentrations at sites of die-offs and may persist in carcasses and soil up to three to four months, in water for several weeks, or longer in optimal environmental conditions.
  • Snow geese Anser caerulescens appear to be important as reservoirs. Outbreaks have been found to follow snow goose migration and also to follow their arrival on the wintering grounds (J1.27.w3, J1.33.w5). Serological tests have indicated recent infection in this species on the breeding grounds even in the absence of any recent outbreaks of avian cholera and also that about 50% of snow geese infected during an outbreak of avian cholera may survive (J1.35.w1). The occurrence of apparently healthy wild snow geese persistently infected with pathogenic strains of Pasteurella multocida has been confirmed (J1.33.w5, P2.47.w1).
  • Bacteria are found mainly near the surface of water and aerosols containing bacteria may be produced when the surface is disturbed, such as by birds landing, taking off and bathing.
  • Bacteria enter usually through mucous membranes of the pharynx or upper air passages, but may also enter through the membranes of the eye or through cuts and abrasions in the skin.
  • Ascending infection (from the cloaca) was suggested in domestic ducks and geese with salpingitis in Denmark, since Pasteurella multocida multocida could be cultured from the cloaca/penis mucosal membrane of apparently-healthy males (J6.24.w1).

Susceptibility: All waterfowl species appear susceptible.

  • Infection and disease may be affected by bacterial factors (e.g. strain of Pasteurella multocida), dose and route of exposure. Host factors which may affect susceptibility include genetic variation, immune status from previous exposure, concurrent infection, exposure to toxins, nutritional status, stress and density of population. Age and sex differences in susceptibility are not clear in waterfowl. Different species may show varying susceptibility (as indicated by percentage of the population dying) in any given outbreak, but species differences are not consistent between outbreaks.
  • [American coots Fulica americana have often been observed as being affected early in epornitics.]

(J1.14.w3, J1.14.w5, J1.22.w5,J1.27.w3, J1.28.w3, J1.33.w5, J4.108.w1, J40.31.w1, B10.26.w7, B11.39.w7, B13.46.w1, B15, B36.7.w7, B37.x.w1, B48.8.w8, B10.26.w7)

CRANES
  • Occasionally affected during outbreaks. (J1.8.w3, J40.52.w2,  P62.12.w1)
  • In general, bacterial diseases are seen in cranes which are predisposed to infection due to population or environmental stressors. (B336.20.w20)

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Disease has been reported in either the wild or in captivity in:

  • N.B. Outbreaks may affect tens of thousands of wild waterfowl (J1.13.w9, B15, B36.7.w7, B48.8.w8).
  • Wild whistling swans, lesser snow geese, Ross's snow geese, white-fronted geese, Canada geese, ducks also coots (Fulica americana), shorebirds, sandhill cranes, gulls and one bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in California, 1970-1971. (J1.8.w3).
  • Wild white-fronted geese Anser albifrons, Canada geese Branta canadensis, snow geese Anser caerulescens(Chen hyperborea), mallard, Anas platyrhynchos, (northern) pintail Anas acuta, American wigeon Anas americana, gadwall Anas strepera, northern shoveler Anas clypeata, green-winged teal Anas crecca carolinensis, blue-winged teal Anas discors, wood duck Aix sponsa, lesser scaup Aythya affinis, redhead Aythya americana, canvasback Aythya valisineria, ring-necked duck Aythya collaris, bufflehead Bucephala albeola, North American ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis (J1.13.w9).
  • Captive giant Canada geese Branta canadensis maxima in Nebraska, USA (J1.13.w10).
  • Wild whistling (tundra) swan Cygnus columbianus, Ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis, (northern) shoveler Anas (Spatula) clypeata, bufflehead Bucephala albeola, greater scaup Aythya marila, lesser scaup Aythya affinis, canvasback Aythya valisineria, ring-necked ducks Aythya collaris, pintail Anas acuta, American wigeon (widgeon) Anas americana, green-winged teal Anas (crecca) carolinensis in winter in Humboldt County, California, USA (J1.14.w3).
  • Wild common eiders Somateria mollissima dresseri in Maine, USA in early summer, among densely-nesting breeding birds (mainly females affected) (J1.14.w4).
  • Wild whistling (tundra swan Cygnus columbianus, pintail Anas acuta, American widgeon (wigeon) Anas americana, northern shoveler Anas clypeata, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, gadwall Anas strepera, American green-winged teal Anas crecca carolinensis) in in Humboldt County, California, USA in January (J1.14.w5).
  • Wild lesser snow goose Anser caerulescens caerulescens, Ross's goose Anser rossii, also few Canada goose Branta canadensis, redhead Aythya americana, American wigeon Anas americana, possibly gadwall Anas strepera in Saskatchewan, Canada, during spring migration (J1.15.w6).
  • Wild Canada geese Branta canadensis wintering in the Mississippi Valley, USA (J1.19.w4).
  • Whistling swan Cygnus columbianus, white-fronted goose Anser albifrons, snow goose Anser caerulescens, Ross's goose Anser rossii, Canada goose Branta canadensis, green-winged teal Anas crecca, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, northern pintail Anas acuta, blue-winged teal Anas discors, northern shoveler Anas clypeata, gadwall Anas strepera, American wigeon Anas americana, canvasback Aythya valisineria, redhead Aythya americana, ring-necked duck Aythya collaris, common eider Somateria mollissima, long-tailed duck (Oldsquaw) Clangula hyemalis, white-winged scoter Melanitta fusca, common merganser Mergus merganser, ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis (mostly free-living, a few captive) (J1.19.w8).
  • Canada goose Branta canadensis, canvasback Aythya valisineria, green-winged teal Anas crecca, lesser scaup Aythya affinis, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, pintail Anas acuta, ring-necked duck Aythya collaris, Ross's goose Anser rossii (Chen rossi), ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis, shoveler Anas clypeata, whistling swan Cygnus columbianus, swan Cygnus sp., white-fronted goose Anser albifrons, (American) wigeon, Anas americana in California, USA (J1.26.w3).
  • Wild mallard Anas platyrhynchos and northern pintails Anas acuta in Texas, USA (J4.108.w1).
  • Wild lesser snow geese and blue geese Anser caerulescens (Chen hyperborea hyperborea, Chen caerulescens), mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Canada goose Branta canadensis in Missouri, USA (J40.31.w1).
  • Wild common eiders Somateria mollissima on their breeding grounds in The Netherlands (J7.42.w1).
  • Mallard Anas platyrhynchos and a few northern pintail Anas acuta and American wigeon Anas americana in Nebraska (J5.32.w2).
  • Muscovy ducks Cairina moschata in Japan (J27.54.w1).
  • Whistling (Tundra) swan Cygnus (Olor) columbianus, trumpeter swan Cygnus (Olor) buccinator, Canada goose Branta canadensis, white-fronted goose Anser albifrons, Blue and snow goose Anser (Chen) caerulescens, Ross's goose Anser (Chen) rossii, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, (American) black duck Anas rubripes, gadwall Anas strepera, pintail Anas acuta, green-winged teal Anas crecca, cinnamon teal Anas cyanoptera, American wigeon (widgeon) Anas (Mareca) americana, (northern) shoveler Anas (Spatula) clypeata, wood duck Aix sponsa, canvasback Aythya valisineria, greater scaup Aythya marila, lesser scaup Aythya affinis, common eider Somateria mollissima, ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis in the USA, Egyptian goose Alopochen aegyptiacus, spur-winged goose Plectropterus gambensis in Kenya (B48.8.w8).
  • Wild tundra swan Cygnus columbianus, trumpeter swan Cygnus buccinator, mute swan Cygnus olor, white-fronted goose Anser albifrons, snow goose Anser (Chen) caerulescens, Ross's goose Anser (Chen) rossii, Canada goose Branta canadensis, Egyptian goose Alopochen aegyptiacus, spur-winged goose Plectropterus gambensis, wood duck Aix sponsa, green-winged teal Anas crecca, American black duck Anas rubripes, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, northern pintail Anas acuta, blue-winged teal Anas discors, cinnamon teal Anas cyanoptera, northern shoveler Anas clypeata, gadwall Anas strepera, American wigeon Anas americana, rosy-billed pochard (Rosybill) Netta peposaca, canvasback Aythya valisineria, redhead Aythya americana, ring-necked duck Aythya collaris, greater scaup Aythya marila, lesser scaup Aythya affinis, common eider Somateria mollissima, long-tailed duck (Oldsquaw) Clangula hyemalis, black (common) scoter Melanitta nigra, surf scoter Melanitta perspicillata, white-winged scoter Melanitta fusca, common goldeneye Bucephala clangula, bufflehead Bucephala albeola, common merganser Mergus merganser, red-breasted merganser Mergus serrator, North American ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis (J1.27.w3).
  • Whistling swans Cygnus columbianus wintering in California, wild trumpeter swan Cygnus buccinator, and also a mute swan Cygnus olor in the UK (B6.9.w1).
  • Domestic ducks and geese in the UK (J3.104.w1).
  • Pasteurella multocida multocida recovered in pure culture from domestic ducks and geese with chronic salpingitis, and from the cloaca/penis of apparently normal geese from the same flocks in Denmark (J6.24.w1).

Cranes

  • Ten Grus canadensis - Sandhill cranes were involved in the 1970-71 avian cholera epornitic in California. (J1.8.w3)
  • Die-offs from avian cholera have included greater sandhill cranes and lesser sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis - Sandhill cranes) in Colorado, Nebraska and New Mexico. (P62.12.w1)
  • One Grus canadensis - Sandhill crane died during an epornitic affecting waterfowl and common crows in Nebraska in 1975. (J1.13.w9)
  • A free-living Grus americana - Whooping crane captured at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, November 1984, which was debilitated and had acute otitis. (P1.1991.w9, P87.4.w5)
  • Four die-offs of Grus canadensis - Sandhill cranes have been reported due to avian cholera, including a singe crane near Kearney in Nebraska in 1977, two cranes on the Platt River in 1981, 65 cranes in February to March 1984 at the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado and about 60 cranes at the Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico, USA, winter 1984-1985. [1988](J40.52.w2)
  • A Grus americana - Whooping crane injured by a bobcat in Florida in 2000 was septicaemic with Pasteurella multocida somatic serotype 1; there were necrotic areas in the spleen when the crane died due to its injuries. In another whooping crane killed in Florida, an isolate of Pasteurella multocida capsular serotype A, somatic serotype 2,5 was detected; this was thought to be a contaminant from the mouth of the predator which had killed the crane. (B702.19.w19)
  • A released Grus americana - Whooping crane at Bosque NWR died during early 1994 from avian cholera; 103 Grus americana - Whooping crane cranes died from the disease over the winter of 1993-1994 and more than 1,500 birds died altogether. (P87.7.w15)

Host Species List

WATERFOWL

CRANES

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Disease has been specifically reported in Free-ranging populations of:

  • N.B. Outbreaks may affect tens of thousands of wild waterfowl (J1.13.w9, B15, B36.7.w7, B48.8.w8).
  • Wild whistling swans, lesser snow geese, Ross's snow geese, white-fronted geese, Canada geese, ducks also coots (Fulica americana), shorebirds, sandhill cranes, gulls and one bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in California, 1970-1971. (J1.8.w3).
  • Wild white-fronted geese Anser albifrons, Canada geese Branta canadensis, snow geese Anser caerulescens (Chen hyperborea), mallard, Anas platyrhynchos, (northern) pintail Anas acuta, American wigeon Anas americana, gadwall Anas strepera, northern shoveler Anas clypeata, green-winged teal Anas crecca carolinensis, blue-winged teal Anas discors, wood duck Aix sponsa, lesser scaup Aythya affinis, redhead Aythya americana, canvasback Aythya valisineria, ring-necked duck Aythya collaris, bufflehead Bucephala albeola, North American ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis (J1.13.w9).
  • Wild whistling (tundra) swan Cygnus columbianus, Ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis, (northern) shoveler Anas (Spatula) clypeata, bufflehead Bucephala albeola, greater scaup Aythya marila, lesser scaup Aythya affinis, canvasback Aythya valisineria, ring-necked ducks Aythya collaris, pintail Anas acuta, American wigeon (widgeon) Anas americana, green-winged teal Anas (crecca) carolinensis in winter in Humboldt County, California, USA (J1.14.w3).
  • Wild common eiders Somateria mollissima dresseri in Maine, USA in early summer, among densely-nesting breeding birds (mainly females affected) (J1.14.w4).
  • Wild whistling (tundra swan Cygnus columbianus, pintail Anas acuta, American widgeon (wigeon) Anas americana, northern shoveler Anas clypeata, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, gadwall Anas strepera, American green-winged teal Anas crecca carolinensis) in in Humboldt County, California, USA in January (J1.14.w5).
  • Wild lesser snow goose Anser caerulescens caerulescens, Ross's goose Anser rossii, also few Canada goose Branta canadensis, redhead Aythya americana, American wigeon Anas americana, possibly gadwall Anas strepera in Saskatchewan, Canada, during spring migration (J1.15.w6).
  • Wild Canada geese Branta canadensis wintering in the Mississippi Valley, USA (J1.19.w4).
  • Whistling swan Cygnus columbianus, white-fronted goose Anser albifrons, snow goose Anser caerulescens, Ross's goose Anser rossii, Canada goose Branta canadensis, green-winged teal Anas crecca, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, northern pintail Anas acuta, blue-winged teal Anas discors, northern shoveler Anas clypeata, gadwall Anas strepera, American wigeon Anas americana, canvasback Aythya valisineria, redhead Aythya americana, ring-necked duck Aythya collaris, common eider Somateria mollissima, long-tailed duck (Oldsquaw) Clangula hyemalis, white-winged scoter Melanitta fusca, common merganser Mergus merganser, ruddy duck Oxyura (J1.19.w8).
  • Canada goose Branta canadensis, canvasback Aythya valisineria, green-winged teal Anas crecca, lesser scaup Aythya affinis, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, pintail Anas acuta, ring-necked duck Aythya collaris, Ross's goose Anser rossii (Chen rossi), ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis, shoveler Anas clypeata, whistling swan Cygnus columbianus, swan Cygnus sp., white-fronted goose Anser albifrons, (American) wigeon, Anas americana in California, USA (J1.26.w3).
  • Wild mallard Anas platyrhynchos and northern pintails Anas acuta in Texas, USA (J4.108.w1).
  • Wild lesser snow geese and blue geese Anser caerulescens (Chen hyperborea hyperborea, Chen caerulescens), mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Canada goose Branta canadensis in Missouri, USA (J40.31.w1).
  • Wild common eiders Somateria mollissima on their breeding grounds in The Netherlands (J7.42.w1).
  • Mallard Anas platyrhynchos and a few northern pintail Anas acuta and American wigeon Anas americana in Nebraska (J5.32.w2).
  • Wild whistling (Tundra) swan Cygnus (Olor) columbianus, trumpeter swan Cygnus (Olor) buccinator, Canada goose Branta canadensis, white-fronted goose Anser albifrons, Blue and snow goose Anser (Chen) caerulescens, Ross's goose Anser (Chen) rossii, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, (American) black duck Anas rubripes, gadwall Anas strepera, pintail Anas acuta, green-winged teal Anas crecca, cinnamon teal Anas cyanoptera, American wigeon (widgeon) Anas (Mareca) americana, (northern) shoveler Anas (Spatula) clypeata, wood duck Aix sponsa, canvasback Aythya valisineria, greater scaup Aythya marila, lesser scaup Aythya affinis, common eider Somateria mollissima, ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis in the USA, Egyptian goose Alopochen aegyptiacus, spur-winged goose Plectropterus gambensis in Kenya (B48.8.w8).
  • Wild tundra swan Cygnus columbianus, trumpeter swan Cygnus buccinator, mute swan Cygnus olor, white-fronted goose Anser albifrons, snow goose Anser (Chen) caerulescens, Ross's goose Anser (Chen) rossii, Canada goose Branta canadensis, Egyptian goose Alopochen aegyptiacus, spur-winged goose Plectropterus gaminess, wood duck Aix sponsa, green-winged teal Anas crecca, American black duck Anas rubripes, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, northern pintail Anas acuta, blue-winged teal Anas discors, cinnamon teal Anas cyanoptera, northern shoveler Anas clypeata, gadwall Anas strepera, American wigeon Anas americana, rosy-billed pochard (Rosybill) Netta peposaca, canvasback Aythya valisineria, redhead Aythya americana, ring-necked duck Aythya collaris, greater scaup Aythya marila, lesser scaup Aythya affinis, common eider Somateria mollissima, long-tailed duck (Oldsquaw) Clangula hyemalis, black (common) scoter Melanitta nigra, surf scoter Melanitta perspicillata, white-winged scoter Melanitta fusca, common goldeneye Bucephala clangula, bufflehead Bucephala albeola, common merganser Mergus merganser, red-breasted merganser Mergus serrator, North American ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis (J1.27.w3).
  • Whistling swans Cygnus columbianus wintering in California, wild trumpeter swan Cygnus buccinator (B6.9.w1).
  • Snow geese, during an outbreak affecting 600-800 water birds at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, 1984. (P1.1991.w9)

Cranes

  • Ten Grus canadensis - Sandhill cranes were involved in the 1970-71 avian cholera epornitic in California. (J1.8.w3)
  • Die-offs from avian cholera have included greater sandhill cranes and lesser sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis - Sandhill cranes) in Colorado, Nebraska and New Mexico. (P62.12.w1)
  • Sandhill cranes have died during avian cholera outbreaks in the San Luis Valley, Colorado and the Middle Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico. (P1.1991.w9)
  • One Grus canadensis - Sandhill crane died during an epornitic affecting waterfowl and common crows in Nebraska in 1975. (J1.13.w9)
  • A free-living Grus americana - Whooping crane captured at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, November 1984, which was debilitated and had acute otitis. The crane became sick nine days after the start of an avian cholera outbreak at the site. (P1.1991.w9, P87.4.w5)
  • Four die-offs of Grus canadensis - Sandhill cranes have been reported due to avian cholera, including a singe crane near Kearney in Nebraska in 1977, two cranes on the Platt River in 1981, 65 cranes in February to March 1984 at the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado and about 60 cranes at the Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico, USA, winter 1984-1985. [1988](J40.52.w2)
  • A Grus americana - Whooping crane injured by a bobcat in Florida in 2000 was septicaemic with Pasteurella multocida somatic serotype 1; there were necrotic areas in the spleen when the crane died due to its injuries. In another whooping crane killed in Florida, an isolate of Pasteurella multocida capsular serotype A, somatic serotype 2,5 was detected; this was thought to be a contaminant from the mouth of the predator which had killed the crane. (B702.19.w19)
  • A released Grus americana - Whooping crane at Bosque NWR died during early 1994 from avian cholera; 103 Grus americana - Whooping crane cranes died from the disease over the winter of 1993-1994 and more than 1,500 birds died altogether. (P87.7.w15)

Host Species List

WATERFOWL

CRANES

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Environment/Geography

General Information on Environmental Factors/Events and Seasonality

  • Initially described mainly as a winter disease in North America. More recently reported to occur year round but frequently linked to particular seasons in given areas. For example, as a winter to early spring disease in California, in spring further north along migratory paths, in early summer on nesting grounds.
  • Outbreaks may be linked to inclement weather (as a general stressor, increased transmission due to crowding or changes in feeding patterns), low water levels or freezing weather (therefore fewer open water areas), possibly seasonal nutritional deficiencies, and to seasonal aggregations (e.g. on wintering grounds, migratory staging areas, in one outbreak among moulting birds and in some species such as common eiders Somateria mollissima, lesser snow geese Anser caerulescens caerulescens and Ross's geese Anser rossii, in breeding colonies).
  • Salinity, presence of organic matter (e.g. carcasses), presence of other microorganisms and increased temperature (e.g. 18-20ēC versus 4ēC) may all increase survival of Pasteurella multocida in water.

(J1.20.w3, J1.27.w3, J1.28.w3, J5.32.w2, J40.31.w1, B15)

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Regions / Countries where the Infectious Agent or Disease has been recorded

  • Widespread disease, with records of outbreaks in Africa, Europe, South America and Japan, but important for wild waterfowl die-offs primarily in North America, in all major flyways (J1.27.w3, B15). Occasional outbreaks in domestic waterfowl and poultry in the UK (J3.104.w1).
  • Repeated outbreaks occur in the Central Valley of California, the Tulare Lake and Klamath Basins (northern California and southern Oregon), Texas Panhandle and the rainwater Basin below the Platte River in Nebraska (B36.7.w7).

In cranes: 

  • In North America: in Colorado, Nebraska and New Mexico. (J1.8.w3, J1.13.w9, P1.1991.w9, P62.12.w1, P87.4.w5)

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Regions / Countries where the Infectious Agent or Disease has been recorded in Free-ranging populations

  • USA, Canada, Chile, Netherlands, Kenya, probably Mexico (J1.27.w3, J7.42.w1, B36.7.w7, B48.8.w8).
  • Repeated outbreaks occur in the Central Valley of California, the Tulare Lake and Klamath Basins (northern California and southern Oregon), Texas Panhandle and the rainwater Basin below the Platte River in Nebraska (B36.7.w7).

In cranes:

  • In North America: in Colorado, Nebraska and New Mexico. (J1.8.w3, J1.13.w9, P1.1991.w9, P62.12.w1, P87.4.w5)

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General Investigation / Diagnosis

General Information on Investigation / Diagnosis

BIRDS
  • Suspect in a die-off involving large numbers of waterfowl, with few sick birds, most dead bird being in good physical condition (indicating acute disease), or if sick birds die within a few minutes of capture. (B36.7.w7)
    • If possible, send whole carcasses for necropsy for diagnosis. (B36.7.w7)
    • Alternatively, send the whole heart (for heart blood culture) and liver, in separate bags. Keep refrigerated and freeze if more than 24 hours will elapse before samples can be cultured. (B36.7.w7)
    • From scavenged or decomposed carcasses, send wings (for culture from bone marrow). (B36.7.w7)
  • Heart blood smears stained with Wright's stain: bacteria with typical bipolar morphology. (J1.8.w3)
  • The organism can be cultured from organs such as heart blood or liver using an appropriate growth medium. (J1.8.w3, J1.13.w9)
    • Can be cultured from bone marrow in a decomposed or scavenged carcass even after several months. (P62.12.w1)
  • Biochemical testing. (J1.8.w3)
  • Haemagglutination tests can be used for typing. (J1.8.w3)
  • Experimental infections in drinking water or by injection. (J1.13.w9)
WATERFOWL
  • History of acute mortality with few sick birds but many dead birds, plus gross post mortem lesions (petechiae on heart and on serous membranes, necrotic foci on the liver), is highly suggestive.
  • Bacteria with bipolar staining (using methylene blue, Wright's stain, Giemsa or Gram stain) in heart blood smears allows presumptive diagnosis.
  • Definitive diagnosis depends on bacterial isolation and identification.
  • The whole carcass should be sent for diagnosis if possible. Alternatively, heart blood (collect whole heart) and liver (at least half): keep cool preferably refrigerated. Freeze if tissues will be in transit for more than24hrs.
  • If scavenged or decomposed collect wings: P. multocida persists several weeks to several months in bone marrow.

(J1.20.w8, J1.27.w3., B10.26.w7, B11.37.w5, B11.39.w7, B15, B36.7.w7, B37.x.w1, B48.8.w8)

CRANES
  • Culture of the organism from blood or tissues. (P62.12.w1)
  • In a free-living Grus americana - Whooping crane which was debilitated and had acute suppurative otitis: dense white cells and Gram-negative rods in the ear exudate; Pasteurella multocida was cultured from the ear exudate (also coagulase-positive Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus sp.). The strain of Pasteurella multocida isolated was identical to that found in snow geese dying of avian cholera at the refuge (about 600-800 water birds were involved). (P1.1991.w9, P87.4.w5)
  • In a die-off of about 60 Grus canadensis - Sandhill cranes at the Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico, USA, winter 1984-1985, Pasteurella multocida serotype 1 was found in the livers of 12 of the dead cranes. [1988](J40.52.w2)
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Similar Diseases (Differential Diagnosis)

WATERFOWL Duck plague (duck viral enteritis) (Duck Plague), pesticide poisoning (Anticholinesterase Toxicity) (nervous signs), colibacillosis (Colibacillosis), erysipelothrix (Erysipelothrix infection), other bacteraemias. Anatipestifer infection (Anatipestifer Infection) as a differential for the chronic form (B10.26.w7, B11.39.w7, B36.7.w7, B37.x.w1).
CRANES Other causes of sudden death.

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Treatment and Control

Specific Medical Treatment

WATERFOWL Antibiotics may be used in captive waterfowl. Initial 200 mg/kg oxytetracycline intramuscular, followed by 30 days of 500 grams tetracycline per ton of feed. Penicillin and streptomycin, 50,000 U/kg body weight subcutaneous or intramuscular. Chlortetracycline 300-400 g/ton feed, sulfaquinoxaline 454 g/ton feed (J1.13.w10, B10.26.w7, B36.7.w7, B37.x.w1, B48.8.w8).
CRANES
  • If the infection is detected early, treat with a broad-spectrum antibiotic. (P62.12.w1)
  • A free-living Grus americana - Whooping crane with Pasteurella multocida bacterial respiratory infection and ascending otitis was treated with 5 mg/kg gentamycin intramuscularly twice daily and carbenicillin 100 mg/kg intramuscularly twice daily. (P87.4.w5)
    • Due to concerns about renal toxicity (pinkish urates noted, containing rbc), the antibiotics were changed to doxycycline 100 mg orally twice daily. After three days profuse watery diarrhoea developed and treatment was changed to long-acting oxytetracycline, subcutaneously once daily for 14 days. (P87.4.w5)
    • Antibiotic treatment appeared effective, with decreasing respiratory signs and improved haematological findings (decreased immature and mature heterophils, increased lymphocytes). (P87.4.w5)
    • The otitis was treated topically using an antibiotoc/steroid ointment (Panalog) for five days and resolved clinically. (P87.4.w5)
    • Note: Treatment of the Pasteurella multocida infection was successful, with increasing weight and strength, but the crane fractured a leg and was euthanised. (P87.4.w5)
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General Nursing and Surgical Techniques

WATERFOWL --
 
  • General supportive care given to a free-living Grus americana - Whooping crane with Pasteurella multocida bacterial respiratory infection and ascending otitis (in addition to the specific antibacterial treatment indicated above) included supplementary feeding by gavage, initially with an elemental diet, 60 mL three times daily, later with a mixed diet (4 oz. gamebird diet, 1/3 tube Nutri-Cal (Evsco, high calorie dietary supplement), 1/2 jar strained beef baby food, two egg yolks and water) given by gavage, plus four small mice daily. (P87.4.w5)
    • The crane refused to self-feed but later swallowed sollid food items when they were placed in its mouth. (P87.4.w5)
    • The continuing anorexia may have been due to liver damage: mild multifocal nonsuppurative hepatitis was found at necropsy. (P87.4.w5)
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Preventative Measures

Vaccination WATERFOWL May be used in captive waterfowl: killed vaccine (bacterin) has been used effectively (J4.100.w2, J5.28.w3, B11.37.w5, B13.46.w1, B15. B36.7.w7)
Prophylactic Treatment

WATERFOWL

--
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Environmental and Population Control Measures

General Environment Changes, Cleaning and Disinfection
  • Early detection is important: areas with concentrations of migratory birds should be subjected to frequent surveillance; carcasses should be sent to diagnostic laboratories. 
  • Control should be initiated as soon as possible, concentrating on minimising exposure of birds (including scavengers) to carcasses and minimising environmental contamination. 
  • Collect carcasses: pick these up by the head and place into plastic bags immediately. Securely close bags and preferably double-bag before removing collected carcasses from the area.
  • Dispose of carcasses by incineration.
  • Eagles have been attracted away from an outbreak by providing road-kill at alternative feeding sites. 

Population reduction of gulls and crows has been used sometimes, but also has limited application. 

Population reduction of American coots, gulls, terns and eiders has been undertaken. The useful effect of this was not clear. Such action, involving destruction of migratory birds, could only be justified in special circumstances and conditions:

    "(1) The outbreak must be discreet and localized rather than generalized and widespread;
    (2) Techniques must be available that will allow complete eradication without causing widespread dispersal of potentially infected birds;
    (3) The methods used must be specific for target species and pose no significant risk for nontarget species;
    (4) Eradication must be justified on the basis of risk to other populations if the outbreak is allowed to continue; and
    (5) The outbreak represents a new geographic extension of avian cholera into an important migratory bird population
    ." 

(B36.7.w7 - full text included)

WATERFOWL
  • Early detection is important. Aim is to minimize environmental exposure and direct contact.
  • Carcass pick-up is essential – pick up head first, preferably by bill to reduce loss of contaminated fluids from nose and mouth, immediately place in bag. Double bagging of carcasses is recommended. Incineration is preferred for carcass removal, burial or liming otherwise.
  • Draining a contaminated site (e.g. into a river sufficiently large to adequately dilute the contaminated water), or adding large volumes of water to dilute the concentration of bacteria may be useful.
  • Disinfection of a wetland may be used where a large number of birds have died in a short time: the possible environmental impact should be assessed first.

(J1.13.w9, B10.26.w7, B11.37.w5, B11.39.w7, B13.46.w1, B15, B36.7.w7 - full text included, B37.x.w1, B48.8.w8)

CRANES
  • Prompt, careful removal of carcasses. (P62.12.w1)
  • Habitat management (drainage or flooding) may be used to discourage use of a contaminated area. (P62.12.w1)
  • In one outbreak, wells were closed to produce freezing of infected ponds, encouraging movement of cranes to other waters. (P87.4.w4)
Population Control Measures WATERFOWL
  • Isolate affected birds.
  • Hazing may be used to keep birds from moving into the site of an outbreak (particularly in the case of birds of conservation importance), and feeding and protection from disturbance may be used to keep waterfowl at a specific location (e.g. to stop spread to other areas). Dispersing birds during an outbreak may decrease population concentration and therefore disease transmission, but risks spreading the disease to other sites
  • Control of scavenging birds may help prevent dispersal of disease.

(J1.13.w9, B10.26.w7, B11.37.w5, B13.46.w1, B15, B36.7.w7 - full text included)

CRANES
  • Cranes may be hazed from the area using noise-makers or vehicles. (P62.12.w1)
  • During an epornitic in Nebraska, spring 1975, aircraft were used (under permit) to haze Grus americana - Whooping cranes away from the affected area. (B36.7.w7, J1.13.w9)
Isolation, Quarantine and Screening WATERFOWL --
CRANES --
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