Enterococcus cecorum is the most frequently occurring enterococcal species in the intestine of chickens of over 12 weeks of age, and there are few reports on its isolation from the skeleton of broiler parent chicks. In the present study, observations on vertebral osteomyelitis and spondylolisthesis ('kinky back syndrome') showing high incidence in 8 broiler parent flocks in different parts of Hungary are summarised. Clinical signs were seen only in roosters between 5 and 13 weeks of age. Diseased birds were alert and remained sitting on their hocks with their feet slightly raised off the ground. Incidence of the disease among male birds ranged from 8% to 30% depending on flocks. Enlargement and distortion of the body of the 6th vertebra were seen as the main pathological lesions. The cavity of the spinal canal was constricted by the distorted vertebral bodies. Resorption of bone tissue and sequestrum formation, signs of increased osteoclast activity, proliferation of fibrotic tissues, infiltration with heterophils and formation of sclerotic layers were detected in the vertebral bodies. From all 24 samples collected from the vertebral lesions, Enterococcus cecorum was isolated and identified using metabolic fingerprinting as well as 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Demonstration of E. cecorum from the vertebral lesions in all examined broiler breeder roosters showing the same clinical and pathological findings in different flocks suggested the pathogenic role of this microorganism for the first time in Hungary.
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