Fowl cholera and acute heart rupture in a backyard turkey

Julia Blakey, Manuela Crispo, Arthur Bickford, Simone Stoute

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pasteurella multocida is the causative agent of fowl cholera, an economically important disease of commercial and backyard poultry. Turkeys are particularly susceptible to fowl cholera; both backyard and commercial turkeys can succumb to disease. On April 10, 2018, a dead 9-mo-old male Bronze turkey was submitted to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS)–Turlock branch for postmortem examination. History included previous housing and fighting with another male turkey, after which separation by a fence was instituted. Fighting continued, and depression and anorexia of 2 d duration was followed by acute collapse and death. At autopsy, blood clots markedly expanded the pericardium, and a tear was visible in the left ventricular free wall. Vegetative aortic valvular lesions were observed. Microscopically, infarcts were observed in kidney, liver, heart, spleen, and pancreas, with large numbers of gram-negative bacterial colonies present in most organs. P. multocida was isolated from multiple organs, and identified as serotype 2,5 and fingerprint 1604. Septic embolization from the vegetative valvular aortic lesions likely led to infarcts in multiple organs, including the left ventricular free wall, which ultimately caused weakening of the ventricular wall, ventricular rupture, and exsanguination into the pericardial space. Rupture of the left ventricular free wall has not been previously documented in turkeys with P. multocida infection, to our knowledge, and demonstrates an atypical presentation of fowl cholera in this backyard turkey.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • Backyard turkeys
  • fowl cholera
  • heart rupture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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