Diseases / List of Bacterial Diseases / Disease description:

Erysipelothrix Infection in Birds (with special reference to Waterfowl and Cranes, and notes on Hedgehogs, Bears and Lagomorphs)

INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL INFORMATION

CLINICAL CHARACTERISTICS & PATHOLOGY

INVESTIGATION & DIAGNOSIS

TREATMENT & CONTROL

SUSCEPTIBILITY & TRANSMISSION

ENVIRONMENT & GEOGRAPHY

 

Return to top of page

General and References

Disease Summary

WATERFOWL Bacterial infection which may cause sudden death or general septicaemic signs.

Return to top of page

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Erysipelas Infection
  • Erysipelothrix
  • Erysipelas
  • Diamond skin disease (Pigs)

Return to top of page

Disease Type

 Bacterial Infection

Return to top of page

Infectious/Non-Infectious Agent associated with the Disease

Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, (= Erysipelothrix insidiosa)

Infective "Taxa"

Non-infective agents

--

Physical agents

Indirect / Secondary

Return to top of page

References

Disease Author

Debra Bourne
Click image for main Reference Section

Major References/Reviews

Code and Title List

B10.26.w10, B11.40.w8, B13.46.w1, B14, B15, B16.19.w1, B32.14.w20, B36.12.w12, B47, B48.14.w14
J3.75.w1, J3.122.w1
J5.21.w1, J5.24.w4
P23.1999S.w8

Cranes:
B48.14.w14
J5.21.w1

Other References

Code and Title List

J7.10.w2

Erinaceus europaeus - West European Hedgehog: J3.128.w2

Bears: B58.26.w26

Lagomorphs: B58.26.w.26, B209.28.w28d

Return to top of page

Clinical Characteristics and Pathology

Detailed Clinical and Pathological Characteristics

General

Swine erysipelas (diamond skin disease) in pigs, polyarthritis in lambs and calves, acute septicaemia in turkeys, and erysipeloid skin lesions in humans. (B47)
WATERFOWL Sporadic acute septicaemic disease.

Clinical Characteristics

BIRDS Acute to subacute disease. (B13.33.w4)
  • No specific signs. (B48.14.w14)
  • Sudden (peracute) death may occur. (B13.33.w4, B32.14.w20, B48.14.w14)
  • Acute illness may occur, with diarrhoea, depression and prostration. (B32.14.w20, B48.14.w14)
    • Lethargy, weakness, anorexia, with nonpigmented skin showing hyperaemia or bruising. (B13.33.w4)
    • Sometimes greenish droppings, dyspnoea and nasal discharge. (B13.33.w4)
    • Survivors may show signs of secondary dermatitis and arthritis (due to hypersensitivity reactions). (B13.33.w4)
WATERFOWL Sudden death or general signs of septicaemia: depression, inappetance, cyanosis, diarrhoea (haemorrhagic) (J3.122.w1, B11.40.w8, B14, B15, B16.19.w1, B32.14.w20, B48.14.w14).
CRANES
LAGOMORPHS
  • Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae infection (but not necessarily disease) has been reported in four species of wild lagomorphs (B209.28.w28d): See: Host species reported.

Incubation

BIRDS
  • Unknown for natural disease. In experimental infections in turkeys, deaths mainly in 44-70 hours following subcutaneous inoculation, but two or three days later with oral inoculation, and occasionally death as long as two to three weeks after oral inoculation. (B32.14.w20)

Mortality / Morbidity

BIRDS
  • In wild birds, usually seen affecting one or a few individuals, but large die-offs associated with this disease do occur. (B36.12.w12)
  • Mortality is generally similar to morbidity: most clinically affected birds die. (B32.14.w20)
  • Mortality rates vary between species. (B32.14.w20)
WATERFOWL
  • May be high - 30-60% mortality has been reported in outbreaks (J3.75.w1, J3.122.w1, J5.24.w4). 
  • In wild birds usually sporadic, but die-offs have been reported (B36.12.w12).
CRANES
  • Few cases reported. (B48.14.w14, J5.21.w1)

Pathology

BIRDS GROSS PATHOLOGY:

Variable findings indicative of septicaemia, not pathognomonic. (B32.14.w20, B48.14.w14)

  • Subcutis: petechiation.
  • Muscles: petechiation.
  • Intestinal mucosa: petechiation
  • Liver: friable, red to black in colour.
  • Spleen: friable, red to black in colour.
  • (B13.33.w4)

Chronic disease (in geese, turkeys):

  • Skin: thickened, leathery.
  • Joints: serofibrinous arthritis.
  • Cardiac: valvular endocarditis.
  • (B13.33.w4)

HISTOPATHOLOGY:

Acute disease:

  • Liver and spleen: degeneration, necrosis. (B13.33.w4)

Chronic disease (in geese, turkeys):

  • Affected tissues show thrombi and vascular wall degeneration. (B13.33.w4)
WATERFOWL Variable findings indicative of septicaemia:
  • Generalized congestion, widespread petechiation.
  • Foot web may be darkly congested;
  • Spleen enlarged and mottled, congested or haemorrhagic;
  • Liver enlarged, moderately congested, sometimes petechiated, sometimes pale streaks on surface;
  • Heart haemorrhages;
  • Breast muscles sometimes haemorrhages.

(J3.75.w1, J3.122.w1, J5.21.w1, J5.24.w1, B14, B32.14.20)

CRANES In two Balearica regulorum gibbericeps (Balearica regulorum - Grey crowned-cranes):
  • Hepatic: Liver enlarged, with necrotic foci throughout in one crane and ecchymoses throughout in a second crane. (J5.21.w1)
  • Renal: Kidneys greatly swollen (noted to be mainly beyond the crypts in one bird) and pale-tan in colour in one crane. (J5.21.w1)
  • Cardiac: In one crane, epicarditis and distension of the pericardium with blood-tinged fluid; no lesions recorded in the other crane. (J5.21.w1)

Additional lesions (considered unrelated):

  • In one crane, dry necrosis of the right wing digital and metacarpal regions, without a gangrenous line at the junction between necrotic and normal tissue. The bird had been beating its wings on the walls while confined for the winter. (J5.21.w1)
  • In the second crane, the right hock and foot were swollen, and necropsy revealed an old penetrating wound entering the lateral plantar surface of the foot, with coagulation necrosis of the foot pad and flexor tendons and at the hock, tissue swelling and friable flexor tendon; no Erysipelothrix rhusopathiae was isolated from the foot or hock lesions. (J5.21.w1)

Return to top of page

Human Health Considerations

  • Easily inoculated through small abrasions. May cause wound infections, occasionally septicaemia which can be fatal (B10.26.w10, B36.12.w12, B48.14.w14, P23.1999S.w8).
  • Mild dermal rash, usually on the hands; more generalised erythema and polyarthritis can occur. (P24.334.w4)
  • The septicaemic form is more likely to occur in immunosuppressed individuals. (P24.334.w4)
    • In the septicaemic form, acute fever, headache, lymphangitis and meningitis may occur. (P24.334.w4)

Return to top of page

Susceptibility / Transmission

General information on Susceptibility / Transmission

Susceptibility:
  • This disease has been diagnosed very commonly in turkeys, occasionally in domestic chickens, and some wild birds including songbirds, starlings, blackbirds, pheasants, quail, grebes, cormorants, gulls, terns and psittacines, and only rarely in other groups such as doves and pigeons, peafowl, guineafowl, wild and domestic waterfowl (Anseriformes), cranes, storks, pelicans, eagles, hawks, corvids and penguins. (B36.12.w12)
    • Turkeys of all ages are very susceptible. (B32.14.w20)
  • Susceptibility may be increased by stresses such as transportation, overheating, parasitism, lack of water for drinking etc. (B48.14.w14) or by concomitant infections. (B13.33.w4)
  • This disease may be seen as a secondary infection in birds following Oiling. (B23.38.w2)

Transmission:

  • Probably transmitted mainly by ingestion (possibly though breaks in the mucosa), or directly through open wounds. The exact route of natural infection has not been determined. (B32.14.w20, B36.12.w12, B48.14.w14)
  • Conditions of poor hygiene may facilitate transmission and development of disease. (B13.33.w4)
WATERFOWL
  • All species may be susceptible. May be seen in all ages, including neonates and juveniles. Infection through skin wounds or ingestion (B10.26.w10, B11.40.w8, B13.46.w1, B15, B16.19.w1, B36.12.w12, B48.14.w14).
CRANES
  • In general, bacterial diseases are seen in cranes which are predisposed to infection due to population or environmental stressors. (B336.20.w20)

Return to top of page

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

This disease has been recorded in a wide variety of birds. (B48.14.w14)

In waterfowl:

  • Ducks, geese and swans (B16.19.w1).
  • Domestic duck flocks (J3.75.w1, J5.24.w4).
  • Domestic goose flocks (J3.122.w1).
  • Wood duck Aix sponsa (J5.21.w1).
  • Anas clypeata - Northern shoveler, Mergus merganser - Common merganser, Anas crecca Green-winged teal (B15, B36.12.w12).
  • Canvasback Aythya valisineria (J7.10.w2)
  • Black swan Cygnus atratus, mallard Anas platyrhynchos, North American wood duck Aix sponsa (B48.14.w14).

In Cranes:

In Hedgehogs:

In Bears

In Lagomorphs:

  • Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae infection (but not necessarily disease) has been reported in four species of wild lagomorphs (B58.26.w.26, B209.28.w28d)

Further information on Host species has only been incorporated for species groups for which a full Wildpro "Health and Management" module has been completed (i.e. for which a comprehensive literature review has been undertaken). Host species with further information available are listed below:

Host Species List

BIRDS:

MAMMALS:

(List does not contain all other species groups affected by this infectious agent)

Return to top of page

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

Northern shoveler Anas clypeata, Common merganser Mergus merganser, Anas crecca Green-winged teal (B15, B36.12.w12).

n Bears

In Lagomorphs:

Further information on Host species has only been incorporated for species groups for which a full Wildpro "Health and Management" module has been completed (i.e. for which a comprehensive literature review has been undertaken). Host species with further information available are listed below:

Host Species List

BIRDS:

MAMMALS:

(List does not contain all other species groups affected by this infectious agent)

Return to top of page

Environment/Geography

General Information on Environmental Factors/Events and Seasonality

This organism can persist for long periods in the environment. (B36.12.w12, B48.14.w14)

In the northern hemisphere, infections most commonly occur in late autumn (fall), winter and early spring. (B13.33.w4)

  • Poor hygiene and management were implicated in one outbreak in waterfowl(J3.75.w1).
  • Close contact with other species in which the disease is common (turkeys, pigs) may also be noted in flock outbreaks in waterfowl (J3.75.w1, J3.122.w1).
  • Flock outbreaks may be associated with cold rainy weather (B32.14.20).
  • Two cases in Balearica regulorum - Grey crowned-crane both occurred in winter. (J5.21.w1)

Return to top of page

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

Worldwide; ubiquitous in the environment (B13.33.w4, B32.14.w20, B48.14.w14). 
  • Endemic in poultry in some areas, otherwise sporadic. (B32.14.w20)

In waterfowl: 

  • UK, Continental Europe, USA (J3.122.w1, J5.24.w4)

In Lagomorphs:

  • France 
  • Yugoslavia 
  • Transbaikalian region 
  • Russia 

(B58.26.w.26)

Return to top of page

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

In waterfowl: USA (B36.12.w12).

Return to top of page

General Investigation / Diagnosis

General Information on Investigation / Diagnosis

  • Identification of Erysipelas rhusiopathiae : slender gram-positive bacilli in smears from blood (heart blood) or tissues (e.g. liver) in combination with septicaemic lesions are suggestive.
  • Culture from blood or tissues.
    • Liver and spleen should be chosen for culture if available. (B13.33.w4)
    • Bone marrow may be the best sample in severely decomposed carcasses. (B13.33.w4)

(B10.26.w10, B14, B15, B16.19.w1, B48.14.w14).

Related Techniques
WaterfowlINDEXDisInvTrCntr.gif (2325 bytes)

Return to top of page

Similar Diseases (Differential Diagnosis)

WATERFOWL Avian cholera (Avian Cholera), colisepticaemia (Colibacillosis), yersiniosis (Yersiniosis), peracute Newcastle disease (Newcastle Disease), other causes of sudden death or septicaemia (B14, B32.14.w20).

Return to top of page

Treatment and Control

Specific Medical Treatment

WATERFOWL
  • Antibiotics: penicillin 50,000U/kg intramuscularly (B10.26.w10, B13.46.w1, B16.19.w1)
  • Vaccination with bacterin (B16.19.w1).
Related Techniques
WaterfowlINDEXDisInvTrCntr.gif (2325 bytes)

Return to top of page

General Nursing and Surgical Techniques

WATERFOWL --
Related Techniques
WaterfowlINDEXDisInvTrCntr.gif (2325 bytes)

Return to top of page

Preventative Measures

Vaccination BIRDS
  • Adjuvanted bacterins have been used for control of outbreaks in flocks. (B13.33.w4)
    • This vaccination may cause sensitisation and potentiate chronic disease in the vaccinated birds. (B13.33.w4)
WATERFOWL A bacterin vaccine designed for turkeys can be used, given subcutaneously or by aerosol in ducklings; two doses are required (B13.46.w1, B16.19.w1, B32.14.w20).
Prophylactic Treatment

WATERFOWL

--
Related Techniques
WaterfowlINDEXDisInvTrCntr.gif (2325 bytes)

Return to top of page

Environmental and Population Control Measures

General Environment Changes, Cleaning and Disinfection For captive birds: General good hygiene and sanitation of food and housing, and control of pests such as rodents and flies (B13.33.w4, B48.14.w14).
Population Control Measures --
Isolation, Quarantine and Screening
  • Isolate newly arrived individuals for at least 30 days. (B48.14.w14)
  • Observe birds regularly for any signs indicating illness. (B48.14.w14)
Related Techniques
WaterfowlINDEXDisInvTrCntr.gif (2325 bytes)

Return to top of page