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Avian Bacterium More Dangerous Than Believed

Until recently, Bordetella hinzii was believed to be nonpathogenic in poultry. But Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have shown that the bacterium caused severe disease in turkeys that was attributed to another Bordetella species.

B. avium is a pathogenic bacterium that causes upper respiratory disease in poultry and wild birds. It is very similar to B. hinzii, and the two species are difficult to distinguish without using highly specific, DNA-based tests.

Scientists at the ARS National Animal Disease Center (NADC) in Ames, Iowa, used these tests to examine several Bordetella isolates, including some that had caused 100 percent morbidity in turkey poults. Although the isolates had been labeled as B. avium, the scientists found that they were actually B. hinzii, flouting conventional wisdom that the bacterium could not cause disease in poultry.
 
 

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