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A cross-sectional study to investigate the occurrence and distribution of intestinal spirochaetes (Brachyspira spp.) in three flocks of laying hens

Phillips, N.D., La, T. and Hampson, D.J.ORCID: 0000-0002-7729-0427 (2005) A cross-sectional study to investigate the occurrence and distribution of intestinal spirochaetes (Brachyspira spp.) in three flocks of laying hens. Veterinary Microbiology, 105 (3-4). pp. 189-198.

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A cross-sectional study was conducted on a commercial egg-producing farm with a history of wet litter. A total of 600 fresh caecal faecal samples were obtained from under cages of laying hens in three sheds each containing flocks of ∼5400 hens. Samples were cultured for intestinal spirochaetes, and growth on the primary isolation plate was observed under a phase contrast microscope and subjected to PCRs specific for the intestinal spirochaetes Brachyspira intermedia and Brachyspira pilosicoli. Spirochaete isolates obtained in pure culture were assessed for their ability to cause haemolysis on blood agar and to produce indole, and were typed using pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). A 1250 base pair portion of the 16S rRNA gene of three B. intermedia and five unidentified isolates was sequenced, and the sequences compared with those of other Brachyspira species. Overall, 121 (20.2%) of the faecal samples contained spirochaetes as determined by growth on the plate and microscopy. Using PCR on the primary growth from these positive samples, 43 (7.2% overall) were shown to contain B. intermedia, 8 (1.3%) to contain B. pilosicoli, and 70 (11.7%) were PCR negative. Only 24 isolates of B. intermedia and five isolates of unknown species were obtained in pure culture. Comparative analysis of the 16S rRNA gene sequence identified the non-B. intermedia isolates as belonging to the proposed species "Brachyspira pulli". PFGE analysis of the B. intermedia strains identified them as having four major banding patterns. Individual patterns were found in hens from different flocks, suggesting cross-transmission of strains between flocks. No environmental sources of infection were identified. The youngest flock had a significantly lower level of colonisation with B. intermedia than the flock of intermediate age (P = 0.004), suggesting that following initial infection of individual young hens on this farm there was amplification and transmission of infection amongst members of the flock.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2004 Elsevier B.V.
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