Ulcerative Enteritis (Quail disease)

Ulcerative enteritis is an acute or chronic infection of game birds, chickens, turkeys and other domestic fowl. Death losses may be high for young quail or pullets being raised for egg production.

The cause of the disease is Clostridium colinum, a spore forming bacterial rod. The infection spreads by the droppings from sick or carrier birds to healthy birds. The disease organism is very resistant to disinfectants and will persist under varying environmental conditions.

Birds with the acute form may die suddenly while in good flesh, whereas more chronically affected birds become listless, have ruffled feathers, whitish watery diarrhea, and develop a humped-up posture. Such birds usually die in an extremely emaciated condition.

The dropping may be confused with those of birds with coccidiosis and the two diseases are often seen in the same bird. Droppings of birds with only ulcerative enteritis never contain blood.

The postmortem lesions are characteristic. The entire intestinal tract often has button-like ulcers but the lower portion is most often affected. These ulcers often perforate, resulting in local or generalized peritonitis.

Although the disease is characteristic in nature, anyone suspecting the infection should seek professional confirmation before treatment is started. Bacitracin and penicillin are the most effective drugs in the treatment and prevention of this disease. If bacitracin is used, it should be incorporated in the feed at levels up to 200 grams per ton of feed. Addition of bacitracin to the water at the rate of one teaspoon per gallon aids in controlling an outbreak of the disease. Either method of administering bacitracin will control the disease within two weeks, unless a bacitracin-resistant strain of the disease organism is present. Penicillin is also used to treat the disease if bacitracin is not effective.

Raising birds on wire is an effective preventative measure. Specific drugs (bacitracin or penicillin) fed at low levels, are effective for controlling the disease in operations where the use of wire flooring is impractical.

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