Retrospective study on the isolation of ornithobacterium rhinotracheale from chickens and Turkeys in central California: 294 cases (2000-12)

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Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale is a rod-shaped, gram-negative, and mostly oxidase-positive bacterium that causes respiratory infections in chickens and turkeys worldwide and can also spread to nonrespiratory organs. The present report analyzes 294 cases in which O. rhinotracheale was isolated from turkeys or chickens in central California in the years 2000 through 2012. Two hundred sixteen cases were from turkey flocks and 78 from chicken flocks. The median age of turkey flocks was 8.7 wk; the median age of chicken flocks was 6.4 wk. From turkeys, O. rhinotracheale was more often isolated from August to January than during the rest of the year. Chickens cases were more evenly distributed throughout the year. The organs with the highest isolation rate were the infraorbital sinus and trachea, followed by lungs and air sacs. Isolation from other organs was rare. Pure cultures were obtained from relatively more turkey organs than chicken organs. The organ from which there was the highest chance to obtain a pure culture was the air sac. In 108 turkey flocks (50.0%) and 64 chicken flocks (82.1%) at least one other respiratory pathogen was detected. The most common gross lesions were increased mucus in trachea, caseous or fibrinous exudate in the air sacs, consolidated lungs indicating pneumonia, congested and edematous lungs, and a flattened trachea. For most types of lesions, the percentage of affected turkeys was higher than the percentage of affected chickens. The percentage of birds with lesions was higher if other respiratory pathogens were present. Overall, the host species (turkey or chicken) was a more important factor for the prevalence of most lesions than the detection of other respiratory pathogens. The most common histopathologic lesions in the sinus and trachea were heterophilic or mononuclear inflammatory cell infiltration. In the lungs and air sacs, the inflammation was characterized by heterophilic infiltration and/or fibrin accumulation. These results are helpful in selecting the most appropriate samples for isolation of O. rhinotracheale. In addition, they show the incidence of the bacterium in turkeys and chickens and which lesions can be expected after infection with O. rhinotracheale, and they indicate that in some cases O. rhinotracheale can be the primary, or at least the major, pathogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-137
Number of pages8
JournalAvian Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • diagnosis
  • epidemiology
  • isolation
  • Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale
  • pathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Animals
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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