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PIC Update: October 2010

Investigating Enterococcus Cecorum


September 22, 2010
By PIC

Topics

Enterococcus cecorum is a normal inhabitant of the intestine and a
cause of arthritis and osteomyelitis in chickens. It has recently
emerged as a new pathogen in Canada. In Ontario, infections with E.
cecorum were diagnosed for the first time in 2008 by the Animal Health
Laboratory (AHL) at the University of Guelph.

Researchers have done a preliminary examination on the genetic diversity and antimicrobial resistance of this  emerging pathogen

By Kimberly Sheppard, Research Co-ordinator

Enterococcus cecorum is a normal inhabitant of the intestine and a cause of arthritis and osteomyelitis in chickens. It has recently emerged as a new pathogen in Canada. In Ontario, infections with E. cecorum were diagnosed for the first time in 2008 by the Animal Health Laboratory (AHL) at the University of Guelph. New cases have been diagnosed on a regular basis since then in Ontario and in other Canadian provinces. Little is known about its diversity and the relationships between clinical isolates that cause disease and isolates from the normal gut flora.

PIC
Emerging Pathogen. Infections with E. cecorum  in chickens were diagnosed for the first time in 2008 by the Animal Health Laboratory (AHL) at the University of Guelph. New cases have been diagnosed on a regular basis since then in Ontario and in other Canadian provinces.


To gain a better understanding of this pathogen, Dr. Patrick Boerlin and his research team at the University of Guelph have been studying E. cecorum isolates collected from chickens in Ontario, in collaboration with D. Slavic and Marina Brash at AHL. Their goal was to develop and apply a molecular typing method (pulsed field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE) to assess relationships between E. cecorum isolates and assess the susceptibility of E. cecorum isolates to antimicrobial agents.

E. cecorum isolates were recovered from 28 clinical infections in 24 farms, and from the ceca of 34 healthy birds from 23 farms. Isolates were identified using biochemical tests and genetic methods. A new PFGE protocol was developed to type E. cecorum, which was used to compare the 62 isolates from the collection. The results show that a large diversity of E. cecorum strains are present in the gut of healthy birds, but that most E. cecorum isolates from lesions in sick birds are similar to one another. This strongly supports the hypothesis that one particular E. cecorum strain has emerged recently in Ontario and is responsible for the majority of recent infections and outbreaks.

Antimicrobial susceptibility testing showed a widespread reduced susceptibility to erythromycin, streptomycin, tetracycline and bacitracin in E. cecorum in general, but not to penicillin. The
isolates responsible for clinical infections are often less susceptible to erythromycin, tylosin, and streptomycin than those from the gut of healthy birds. Similar but less obvious trends were observed for enrofloxacin, florfenicol, neomycin, and gentamicin. However, isolates from healthy birds were less susceptible to clindamycin in vitro.

This study provides a strong basis for more detailed comparisons between representative isolates from clinical infections and from the gut of healthy birds in order to identify the characteristics which make some E. cecorum more prone to cause infections and outbreaks than others. Such comparisons may help develop more efficient therapies and vaccines for the prevention of E. cecorum infections.  To read more about this research project, please visit www.poultryindustrycouncil.ca



PIC’s Picks
By Tim Nelson, executive director

Don’t Miss This Year’s Innovations Conference!
Faced with the choice of attending a wide plethora of events and conferences throughout this fall, I am writing to strongly encourage you to attend the 39th Poultry Innovations Conference at the Sheraton on the Falls Hotel in Niagara Falls on November 11 and 12.

This conference as always brings you the brightest and best from across Canada and the United States – speakers you normally won’t hear unless you travel out of province to catch – as well as a plethora of Ontario talent. The ideas and opinions you’ll hear will help you to build your farm business and contribute to a stronger poultry sector in Ontario. This is not just a conference; it’s a strategic gathering of thought leaders where the discussion will enable you to tangibly push the industry forward. 

This event also features a great banquet and entertainment.

Registration is available online at www.poultryindustrycouncil.ca

Value-added eggs: Improving Hens
By Rob Renema et al., University of Alberta

Enriched eggs are still in their infancy in the Canadian market. Currently, only 8-10 per cent of consumers purchase eggs classified as “value-added”. This market category includes eggs from free-range and other alternate production systems, such as eggs enriched with health-promoting ingredients via the hen’s diet.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) and lutein are value-added ingredients with proven health benefits that are incorporated into table eggs through modifications to the hen diet. Whereas numerous enrichment products are available, how birds transfer these ingredients to the egg as well as how multiple ingredients might interact during the enrichment process is not well understood.

Dr. Rob Renema and his research team at the University of Alberta have been exploring how birds move ingredients of interest from the feed to the eggs, with the aim of finding ways to make the process more efficient, as well as having enrichment strategies established for when new, similar
compounds are wanted in the egg. They were also interested in reducing hen:hen or egg:egg variability in enrichment. Commercial egg products are generally over-enriched to ensure minimum label requirements are met. This adds cost and inefficiency to the system. In a series of experiments, the research team explored factors affecting transfer of value-added enrichment ingredients from the hen diet to the egg.

Their findings? It all comes down to the fat. Fat digestibility in layers is greatly influenced by the structural type, form, composition and amount of fat in dietary ration. Hence, the maintenance of gut health is very much essential for optimizing digestion and improving the production potential of value added enrichment in layers. The individual hen effects on omega-3 PUFA absorption in this project suggest further work to optimize egg enrichment through dietary strategies would be beneficial for the field of egg enrichment – both for current products and for new products. To read more about this research project, please visit www.poultryindustrycouncil.ca


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