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Borrelia anserina infections

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Datasheet

Borrelia anserina infections

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 09 November 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Animal Disease
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Borrelia anserina infections
  • Overview
  • Avian (fowl) spirochetosis, or borreliosis, is an acute, septicaemic disease of a variety of avian species, including chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and pheasants, caused by the bacterium Borrelia anserina (...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
A 'droopy chicken' due to spirochetosis. Note the ruffled feathers and cyanosis of the comb.
TitleSymptoms
CaptionA 'droopy chicken' due to spirochetosis. Note the ruffled feathers and cyanosis of the comb.
CopyrightMarcelo. B. Labruna
A 'droopy chicken' due to spirochetosis. Note the ruffled feathers and cyanosis of the comb.
SymptomsA 'droopy chicken' due to spirochetosis. Note the ruffled feathers and cyanosis of the comb.Marcelo. B. Labruna
Aggregation of tick faeces (black detritus) around a crack in a pen infested by Argas sp.|Aggregation of tick faeces (black detritus) around a crack in a pen infested by the Borrelia anserina vector, Argas sp.
TitleField signs
CaptionAggregation of tick faeces (black detritus) around a crack in a pen infested by Argas sp.|Aggregation of tick faeces (black detritus) around a crack in a pen infested by the Borrelia anserina vector, Argas sp.
CopyrightMarcelo. B. Labruna
Aggregation of tick faeces (black detritus) around a crack in a pen infested by Argas sp.|Aggregation of tick faeces (black detritus) around a crack in a pen infested by the Borrelia anserina vector, Argas sp.
Field signsAggregation of tick faeces (black detritus) around a crack in a pen infested by Argas sp.|Aggregation of tick faeces (black detritus) around a crack in a pen infested by the Borrelia anserina vector, Argas sp.Marcelo. B. Labruna

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Borrelia anserina infections

International Common Names

  • English: avian borreliosis; avian spirochaetosis; avian spirochetosis; borreliosis, avian; fowl spirochetosis; spirochaetosis; spirochetosis; spirochetosis, borrelia anserina, in birds

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: borreliose aviária

Overview

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Avian (fowl) spirochetosis, or borreliosis, is an acute, septicaemic disease of a variety of avian species, including chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and pheasants, caused by the bacterium Borrelia anserina (Barnes, 1997). It is of most significance in tropical and subtropical areas; extensively reared free-range flocks are more likely to be affected than confined flocks (Kanth, 2006). The disease was first described among geese in Russia (Sakharoff, 1891). A few decades later in Brazil, Marchoux and Salimbeni (1903) incriminated the role of ticks of the genus Argas as natural vectors of the disease; this was later confirmed by several authors in all continents (Prowazek, 1909; Knowles et al., 1932; Diab and Soliman, 1977).

B. anserina was classified under different taxonomic names at the beginning of the twentieth century (Knowles et al., 1932). These differences were mostly justified by the negative results obtained in cross-immunity tests performed on laboratory birds with different geographic strains. Nowadays, it is well known that different B. anserina antigenic types exist and active immunity is serotype-specific (DaMassa and Adler, 1979; Soni and Joshi, 1980; Sambri et al., 1999). 

Hosts/Species Affected

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B. anserina is only pathogenic for birds. Birds are susceptible at all ages, but young birds tend develop more severe clinical signs with greater lethality rates. Joshi et al. (1985) showed dwarf chickens to be more resistant than White Leghorns and synthetic broilers. Native chicken breeds tend to be more resistant than are commercial ones (Rashid and Ali, 1991).

Distribution

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Avian spirochetosis occurs on all continents. B. anserina is primarily transmitted by ticks. Obviously, the prevalence of the disease should follow the tick vector distribution in the world. However, the vector distribution is much wider than that of spirochetosis. This difference is possibly a result of unrecorded cases of the disease in other countries, but also because some vector populations are not infected by B. anserina.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

AzerbaijanNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
BahrainDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
BhutanDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Brunei DarussalamNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
China
-Hong KongDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Georgia (Republic of)Disease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
IndiaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
-Indian PunjabWidespreadRao et al., 1954
-Madhya PradeshWidespreadJoshi et al., 1985
-Uttar PradeshWidespreadRao et al., 1954
IndonesiaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
-JavaPresentMcNeil et al., 1949; Loomis, 1953
IranDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
IraqReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
IsraelDisease never reportedSinger, 1977; OIE Handistatus, 2005
JapanNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
JordanDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
KazakhstanDisease never reportedKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005
Korea, DPRDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Korea, Republic ofNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
KuwaitDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
LebanonNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Malaysia
-Peninsular MalaysiaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
-SabahDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
-SarawakNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
MongoliaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MyanmarNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
NepalNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
OmanDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
PakistanReported present or known to be presentKnowles et al., 1932; Rashid and Ali, 1991
PhilippinesDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
QatarNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
SingaporeDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Sri LankaLast reported2003OIE Handistatus, 2005
SyriaDisease not reportedMcNeil et al., 1949; OIE Handistatus, 2005
TaiwanDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
TajikistanNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
ThailandDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
TurkeyNo information availableMcNeil et al., 1949; OIE Handistatus, 2005
TurkmenistanNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
United Arab EmiratesNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
UzbekistanLast reported1995OIE Handistatus, 2005
VietnamNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
YemenNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005

Africa

AlgeriaNo information availableKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005
AngolaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
BeninNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
BotswanaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Burkina FasoNo information availableGothe et al., 1981; OIE Handistatus, 2005
BurundiNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
CameroonNo information availableKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005
Cape VerdeDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Central African RepublicDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
ChadNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Congo Democratic RepublicDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Côte d'IvoireDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
DjiboutiDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
EgyptDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
EritreaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
EthiopiaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
GhanaNo information availableBarnes, 1997; OIE Handistatus, 2005
GuineaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Guinea-BissauNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
KenyaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
LibyaLast reported2000OIE Handistatus, 2005
MadagascarDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MalawiNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
MaliNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
MauritiusDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MoroccoNo information availableKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005
MozambiqueNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
NamibiaLast reported1990OIE Handistatus, 2005
NigeriaAbdu, 1987; Sa'idu et al., 1995
RéunionNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
RwandaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Sao Tome and PrincipeNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
SenegalNo information availableKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005
SeychellesNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
SomaliaNo information availableKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005
South AfricaReported present or known to be presentGothe and Schrecke, 1972; OIE Handistatus, 2005
SudanReported present or known to be presentGinawi and Shommein, 1980; Higgins, 1986; OIE Handistatus, 2005
SwazilandNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
TanzaniaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
TogoNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
TunisiaDisease not reportedKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005
UgandaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
ZambiaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
ZimbabweDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005

North America

BermudaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
CanadaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MexicoDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
USACAB Abstracts data miningOIE Handistatus, 2005
-ArizonaLocalisedRockey and Snell, 1958
-CaliforniaLocalisedHoffman and Jackson, 1956; Cooper and Bickford, 1993
-New MexicoLocalisedFrancis, 1956
-TexasLocalisedBurroughs, 1947

Central America and Caribbean

BarbadosDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
BelizeNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
British Virgin IslandsDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Cayman IslandsDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Costa RicaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
CubaLast reported1993OIE Handistatus, 2005
CuraçaoDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
DominicaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Dominican RepublicLast reported1996OIE Handistatus, 2005
El SalvadorNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
GuadeloupeNo information availableKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005
GuatemalaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
HaitiDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
HondurasDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
JamaicaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MartiniqueNo information availableKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005
NicaraguaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
PanamaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Saint Kitts and NevisDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Trinidad and TobagoDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005

South America

ArgentinaNo information availableBoero, 1957; OIE Handistatus, 2005
BoliviaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
BrazilPresentAtaliba et al., 2007
-Minas GeraisLocalisedLabruna et al., 1999
-Rio de JaneiroLocalisedMarchoux and Salimbeni, 1903; Prowazek, 1909
-Sao PauloLocalisedNóbrega and Reis, 1947
ChileDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
ColombiaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
EcuadorDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Falkland IslandsDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
French GuianaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
GuyanaDisease never reportedKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005
ParaguayNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
PeruDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
UruguayDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
VenezuelaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005

Europe

AndorraNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
AustriaNo information availableKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005
BelarusDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
BelgiumNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Bosnia-HercegovinaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
BulgariaPresentKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005; Popova, 2008
CroatiaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
CyprusDisease not reportedKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005
Czech RepublicDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
DenmarkNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
EstoniaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
FinlandLast reported2000OIE Handistatus, 2005
FranceDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
GermanyNo information availableKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005
GreeceDisease not reportedMcNeil et al., 1949; OIE Handistatus, 2005
HungaryPresentKnowles et al., 1932
IcelandDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
IrelandDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Isle of Man (UK)Disease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
ItalyNo information availableFabbi et al., 1995; OIE Handistatus, 2005
JerseyDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
LatviaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
LiechtensteinDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
LithuaniaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
LuxembourgDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MacedoniaDisease not reportedKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005
MaltaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MoldovaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
NetherlandsDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
NorwayNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
PolandDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
PortugalDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Russian FederationLast reported2003OIE Handistatus, 2005
-Southern RussiaPresentSakharoff, 1891
SlovakiaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
SloveniaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
SpainDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
SwedenNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
SwitzerlandNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
UKDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
-Northern IrelandDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
UkraineDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Yugoslavia (former)No information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)Disease not reportedKnowles et al., 1932; OIE Handistatus, 2005

Oceania

AustraliaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
-New South WalesWidespreadHenry, 1950
-QueenslandPresentKnowles et al., 1932
-South AustraliaPresentHart, 1963
-VictoriaWidespreadGorrie, 1950
-Western AustraliaPresentHart, 1963
French PolynesiaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
New CaledoniaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
New ZealandDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
SamoaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
VanuatuDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Wallis and Futuna IslandsNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005

Pathology

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Post-mortem findings

The most characteristic post-mortem finding is the marked enlargement and mottling of the spleen, showing ecchymotic haemorrhages. The spleen becomes three to six times its normal size. The liver may also be enlarged, congested and friable containing minute areas of necrosis. The kidneys are enlarged and pale. Greenish mucoid enteritis is usually present.

Histopathology

The spleen shows hyperplasia of histiocytes and reticular cells, moderate depletion of lymphocytes and accentuation of the red pulp. Extensive erythrophagocytosis is evident in the sinusoidal macrophages of the spleen, in Kupffer cells of the liver and in bone marrow smears. Haemosiderosis is observed in the spleen, liver and intestines. Silver-stained spirochetes can be observed in the spleen, liver, small intestine, kidney or lungs (Bandopadhyay and Vegad, 1983; Cooper and Bickford, 1993).

Diagnosis

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Clinical and Epidemiological Diagnosis

Increased mortality in flocks followed by clinical signs such fever, depression and greenish diarrhoea are suggestive of spirochetosis, but they are also observed in other acute avian diseases. These clinical signs, associated with splenomegaly at necropsy and the presence of Argas infestations, constitute epidemiological evidences of spirochetosis. A flock infested by Argas ticks can be identified by searching for attached larvae on the underneath side of wing webs.


Laboratory Diagnosis

Spirochetosis can be confirmed by the demonstration of spirochetes in Giemsa-stained blood or organ smears from ill birds. In the late disease phase, stained blood smears show the spirochetes aggregated in clumps due to agglutination antibodies. Highly motile spirochetes can be observed in a drop of fresh blood observed under dark-field microscope. B. anserina can also be demonstrated in the buffy coat in the microhematocrit tube (Higgins, 1986).

B. anserina can be isolated in 6-day-old embryonating chicken or turkey eggs by inoculating infective blood into the yolk sac. Spirochetes may be demonstrated 2-3 days later by examining the allantoic fluid. As it has been possible to cultivate B. anserina in BSK medium, this medium could also be used for isolation assays.

Spirochetes disappear from blood after the acute phase or following antibiotic therapy. Under this situation, several serologic tests have been developed to identify antibodies in convalescent birds, including serum plate agglutination test, slide agglutination and immobilization test, agar gel precipitin test, and indirect fluorescent antibody test (Barnes, 1997). Birds recovered from spirochetosis develop solid immunity for more than 6 months against homologous strains (McNeil et al., 1949; Verma and Rao, 1988).

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Digestive Signs / Abnormal colour of stool in birds, white, green, yellow faeces Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
Digestive Signs / Anorexia, loss or decreased appetite, not nursing, off feed Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
Digestive Signs / Bloody stools, faeces, haematochezia Sign
Digestive Signs / Diarrhoea Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
Digestive Signs / Hepatosplenomegaly, splenomegaly, hepatomegaly Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Cyanosis, blue skin or membranes Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Fever, pyrexia, hyperthermia Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Generalized weakness, paresis, paralysis Sign
General Signs / Generalized weakness, paresis, paralysis Sign
General Signs / Increased mortality in flocks of birds Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Lack of growth or weight gain, retarded, stunted growth Sign
General Signs / Pale comb and or wattles in birds Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Pale mucous membranes or skin, anemia Sign
General Signs / Polydipsia, excessive fluid consumption, excessive thirst Poultry:All Stages Sign
General Signs / Sudden death, found dead Poultry:All Stages Sign
General Signs / Trembling, shivering, fasciculations, chilling Poultry:All Stages Sign
General Signs / Underweight, poor condition, thin, emaciated, unthriftiness, ill thrift Sign
General Signs / Weakness, paresis, paralysis of the legs, limbs in birds Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Weakness, paresis, paralysis, drooping, of the wings Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Weight loss Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
Nervous Signs / Dullness, depression, lethargy, depressed, lethargic, listless Poultry:All Stages Sign
Reproductive Signs / Decreased, dropping, egg production Poultry:Mature female Diagnosis
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Ruffled, ruffling of the feathers Cattle & Buffaloes:All Stages Diagnosis
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Soiling of the feathers, vent feathers Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Soiling of the vent in birds Sign

Disease Course

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Natural infection via either tick bites or ingestion of infective faeces, blood or ticks results in an incubation period of 3-12 days. Intravenous inoculation of infected blood into susceptible birds induces the disease after 24 to 48 hours (Knowles et al., 1932; Labruna et al., 1999). The most common clinical symptoms are fever, generalized weakness, ruffed feathers, loss of appetite, thirst, greenish diarrhoea, dropped head, and finally paralysis of wings and legs. Cyanosis or pallor of comb and wattles are visible. A few spirochetes may be found in the peripheral blood coincident with the initial temperature rise, thereafter increasing in concentration in 2 or 3 days, and then usually disappearing after a further 1 or 2 days. The disease course lasts for 3 to 7 days, followed by bird recovery or death. Recovered birds develop solid immunity and are not carriers of the bacterium. Under natural outbreaks, mortality rates vary from 1-2% up to almost 100%. The lowest rates occur in closed flocks where spirochetosis is endemic. The highest rates occur when susceptible flocks are placed in pens inhabited by infected ticks or when infected ticks are introduced in clean flocks by either infested birds or equipment.

Birds develop anaemia, the severity of which is maximum when spirochetemia is in decline. Studies have revealed the role of cold agglutinins and soluble immune complexes in the production of anaemia during acute spirochetosis. It is suspected that these adhere to erythrocytes, enhancing their phagocytosis by macrophages in tissues, especially in spleen (Soni et al., 1980; Joshi et al., 1982; Barnes, 1997).

Epidemiology

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Besides being the primary vector, Argas spp. ticks are also reservoirs of the bacterium in nature. B. anserina can survive trans-stadially during all tick stages and is transmitted transovarially (Zaher et al., 1977). Once infected, a tick remains infected by B. anserina for its entire life (Hoogstraal, 1985).

Argas ticks have a multi-host life cycle pattern, consisting of eggs, larvae, two to four nymphal stages and the adults (males and females). Larvae feed for 4-6 days, whereas the nymphal instars and adult ticks feed for only 20 to 50 minutes, at night, when birds are housed. Egg deposition and incubation, mating and all tick moults occur off the host, inside cracks and crevices. Each female may lay as many as 900 eggs during her entire life. These are produced in as many as seven batches with a blood meal preceding each batch of eggs. Hungry ticks leave the cracks or crevices at dark hours, and move toward a sleeping chicken. Larvae attach mainly on the underneath side of the wing web. Nymphs and adults feed mainly on the shanks. Fed ticks detach from the hosts and immediately walk and hide in cracks or crevices. As engorged ticks walk toward hidden places they usually release black faeces which are characteristic. Highly infested flocks can be carefully identified by the presence of several small black spots <1 mm wide) on the roosts and walls, especially around crack entrances. Unfed Argas ticks are able to survive without a new blood meal for several months or years.

Spirochetosis outbreaks have been reported in Californian turkey and chicken flocks where no ticks, lice or mites could be found (McNeil et al., 1949). These intriguing findings have been subject to several speculations about the transmission by mosquitoes or through contaminated faeces from wandering birds. Once introduced in a clean flock, spirochetosis can be transmitted from bird to bird by virtually any means whereby blood, excreta, or tissues from an infected live or recently dead bird come in contact with a susceptible bird (Barnes, 1997).

Impact: Economic

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Most of the literature about spirochetosis was published before the 1980s, especially from the 1940s to the 1960s, when the poultry industry comprised several small enterprises, many of which could be categorized by poor sanitation conditions. New scientific reports about field spirochetosis have rarely been released. This contrast is certainly a result of modifications of poultry-rearing methods around the world in the past few decades. The industry today, as it is in most countries, is very advanced in response to globalization, industrialization, vertical integration and aggregation such that a few large agribusiness companies virtually control the poultry industry in different countries. A number of diseases that used to cause problems before this revolution in production systems no longer do so, among them avian spirochetosis. These modifications have diminished the possibilities of tick establishment into new intensively managed flocks. In many countries where spirochetosis was reported to be one of the most severe diseases affecting the poultry industry in the past, the disease became confined to small flocks kept for personal consumption of product (village chickens) or very limited local sale, with no significant economic impact to the country. Sa’idu et al. (1995) noted the drastic decline of cases of spirochetosis in Nigeria in the 1980s, when compared to the 1970s, and associated it with better housing of birds and improved management and tick control measures.

Nowadays, free-range egg production is becoming a trend in response to concerns about the welfare of poultry kept in large farm complexes. It will be interesting to see the impact of such management on the establishment of Argas populations in these modified flock systems.

Disease Treatment

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B. anserina is sensitive to penicillin, tylosin, streptomycin, dihydrostreptomycin, oxytetracycline and aureomycin. Generally, a single intramuscular dose of any of these drugs is sufficient for a severely affected bird to recover (Hsiang and Packchanian, 1951; Singer, 1977; Kheir El Din et al., 1986).

Prevention and Control

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Avoiding or eliminating Argas ticks from the pens are the best measures to control spirochetosis. Tick eradication through the use of acaricides is very difficult due to the particular behaviour of ticks, which hide in the pen. Vaccination has been shown to control the disease. Several formalin- or phenol-inactivated vaccines were tested in different countries (Aragão, 1911; Nóbrega and Reis, 1941; Morcos et al., 1946; Gorrie, 1950; Rao et al., 1954). In general, all these vaccines showed high immunizing power which lasted for at least 6 months.

Today, fowl spirochetosis is practically confined to small flocks kept for subsistence or very limited local sale. In this context, the disease assumes endemic levels in which sick birds are seldom observed. Newborn chicks are resistant to the disease due to maternal antibodies and develop acquired immunity as they follow up. In these flocks the disease is practically confined to recently introduced susceptible birds. This particular context has aroused little or no interest from veterinary laboratories to trade spirochetosis vaccines. Regular acaricide applications on the pen and antibiotic therapy of sick birds should be adopted in these endemic spirochetosis flocks. Alternatively, attempts to 'tick-proof' roosts by suspending them from wire and keeping grease spread on the wire, or by placing roost legs in oil-filled containers, require almost constant attention to be effective (Barnes, 1997). Owners of clean flocks must be aware of the origin of new introduced birds to avoid importation of ticks or the disease.

References

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Abdu PA, 1987. Infectious bursal disease and spirochetosis in pullet chicks. Avian Diseases, 31(1):204-205; 4 ref.

Aragão HB, 1911. Soroterapia e vacinação na espiroquetoze das galinhas. Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, 3:3-39.

Ataliba AC; Resende JS; Yoshinari N; Labruna MB, 2007. Isolation and molecular characterization of a Brazilian strain of Borrelia anserina, the agent of fowl spirochaetosis. Research in Veterinary Science, 83(2):145-149. http://www.sciencedirect.co./science/journal/00345288

Bandopadhyay AC; Vegad JL, 1983. Observations on the pathology of experimental avian spirochaetosis. Research in Veterinary Science, 35:138-144.

Barnes HJ, 1997. Spirochetosis (Borreliosis). In: amek BW, Barnes HJ, Beard CW, McDougald LR, Saif YM, eds. Disease of Poultry. Ames, USA: Iowa State University Press, 318-324.

Boero JJ, 1957. Las garrapatas de la Republica Argentina (Acarina-Ixodoidea). Buenos Aires, Argentina:Universidad de Buenos Aires, 113pp.

Burroughs AL, 1947. Fowl spirochetosis transmitted by Argas persicus (Oken, 1818) from Texas. Science, 105:577.

Cooper GL; Bickford AA, 1993. Spirochetosis in California game chickens. Avian Diseases, 37(4):1167-1171; 16 ref.

DaMassa AJ; Adler HE, 1979. Avian spirochetosis:natural transmission by Argas (Persicargas) sanchezi (Ixodoidea:Argasidae) and existence of different serologic and immunologic types of Borrelia anserina in the United States. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 40(1):154-157.

Dhawedkar RG; Dhanesar NS, 1983. Preservation of Borrelia anserina by liquid nitrogen refrigeration. Indian. Journal of Animal Sciences, 53(10):1124-1127.

Diab FM; Soliman ZR, 1977. An experimental study of Borrelia anserina in four species of Argas ticks. 1. Spirochete localization and densities. Zeitschrift fur Parasitenkunde, 53:201-212.

Fabbi M; Sambri V; Marangoni A; Magnino S; Basano FS; Cevenini R; Genchi C, 1995. Borrelia in pigeons: no serological evidence of Borrelia burgdorferi infection. Journal of Veterinary Medicine. Series B, 42(8):503-507; 20 ref.

Francis DW, 1956. A case of spirochetosis in New Mexico. Poultry Science, 35:1142-1143.

Ginawi MA; Shommein AM, 1980. Preservation of Borrelia anserina at different temperatures. Bulletin of Animal Health and Production in Africa, 28:221-223.

Gorrie CJR, 1950. Vaccination against spirochetosis in fowls. Australian Veterinary Journal, 26:308-315.

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