In the dynamic world of poultry farming, ensuring the health and vitality of flocks is paramount. As researchers delve into the complexities of avian diseases, their discoveries often lead to vital changes in how we understand and manage the wellbeing of these birds. Such research not only enhances the productivity of poultry farms but also safeguards the food supply chain, which millions around the globe rely on. Uncovering hidden threats and understanding their mechanisms is crucial in this ongoing battle against poultry diseases. The following study by a team of dedicated scientists brings to light such a hidden threat, offering new perspectives and solutions in the field of poultry health.

In the groundbreaking study, a team of scientists has unveiled the significant health threat posed by Streptococcus gallolyticus to young turkeys. This bacterium, commonly a benign gut inhabitant in animals and humans, has been identified as a lethal pathogen in poultry, particularly affecting poults aged one to three weeks.

In their quest to understand this bacterium’s impact on turkey health, the team employed a range of scientific techniques. They carefully isolated and studied different strains of the bacterium from infected turkeys, using advanced methods like Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) for precise identification. This approach allowed them to accurately determine the bacterium’s presence and its specific strain, providing crucial insights into how it affects the birds. Additionally, they conducted controlled experiments to observe the bacterium’s effects, which included monitoring changes in the turkeys’ internal organs and overall health.

The research, spearheaded by Dr. Guillermo Tellez-Isaias and conducted by Latasha Gray et al. 2023 at the Center for Excellence in Poultry Science of the University of Arkansas  delves deep into the pathogenic characteristics of this bacterium. Published in the journal Poultry Science, their study is a vital contribution to avian health science.

Dr. Tellez-Isaias explains the impetus behind their research, “We were driven to understand why these young turkeys were succumbing so rapidly to infections without any previous signs. Our findings on Streptococcus gallolyticus have significant implications for turkey health and biosecurity measures in poultry farming.”

Through their comprehensive experiments, the team found that Streptococcus gallolyticus could cause rapid, fatal infections, leading to conditions like splenomegaly, heart necrosis, and pericarditis. “Our observations were consistent across different inoculation methods, revealing the bacterium’s ability to cause severe internal damage,” Dr. Tellez-Isaias stated.

One of the most significant discoveries of the study was the potential horizontal transmission of the bacterium among turkeys. “This finding changes our understanding of the bacterium’s spread and raises important questions about current biosecurity practices in poultry farms,” remarked Dr. Tellez-Isaias.

In conclusion, the study underscores the need for heightened awareness and enhanced biosecurity measures to protect turkey flocks from this stealthy pathogen. The work of Latasha Grayand the  team at the Poultry Health Laboratory of the University of Arkansas provides crucial insights into managing and mitigating the risks posed by Streptococcus gallolyticus, ensuring the health and sustainability of the poultry industry.

Journal Reference

Gray LS, Latorre JD, Hernandez-Patlan D, Solis-Cruz B, Petrone-Garcia VM, Hernandez-Velasco X, Robbins KM, Moore RW, Vuong CN, Stein A, Laverty L, Martin K, Coles ME, Señas-Cuesta R, Diaz-Gomez JM, Loeza I, Castellanos-Huerta I, Maguey-Gonzalez JA, Graham BD, Hargis BM, Tellez-Isaias G. Isolation, characterization, and experimental infection of Streptococcus gallolyticus subspecies pasteurianus from commercial turkeys with acute septicemia: a pilot study. Poult Sci. 2023 Oct;102(10):102950. DOI: 10.1016/j.psj.2023.102950.