Experimental comparison of hemolytic and nonhemolytic Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale field isolates in vivo. Academic Article uri icon


  • Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale (ORT) is a nonhemolytic, gram-negative, pleomorphic, rod-shaped bacterium that causes upper and lower respiratory tract disease in poultry. Recently, hemolytic strains of ORT have been isolated with increasing frequency from field outbreaks. A study was conducted to determine whether the hemolytic phenotype is associated with any change in virulence. Briefly, 225 turkey poults, vaccinated against hemorrhagic enteritis at 4 wk of age, were randomly divided into nine replicates housed in separate rooms: three sham treatment controls (25 poults/replicate), three challenged with a nonhemolytic (NH) field isolate (24 poults/replicate), and three challenged with a hemolytic (H) field isolate (24 poults/replicate). Nine days postvaccination, poults were inoculated intratracheally with either 0.2 ml sterile phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), 2 x 10(8) colony-forming units (CFU) of the NH isolate in 0.2 ml PBS, or 2 x 10(8) CFU of the H isolate in 0.2 ml PBS. Serum and body weights were obtained at 0, 7, 14, and 21 days postinoculation (dpi). Tissues were taken for culture and histopathology from five randomly selected poults/replicates at 7, 14, and 21 dpi. When compared with poults inoculated with the H isolate or controls, those inoculated with the NH isolate showed a highly significant depression in weight gain at 7 dpi. NH poults also had significantly higher levels of antibody against ORT at 14 and 21 dpi. Reisolations decreased over time and, by 21 dpi, only the NH phenotype could be found. Based on a Likert-type scale, poults inoculated with the NH isolate had significantly higher histopathologic lesion scores in lung tissue at 7, 14, and 21 dpi. Results suggest that nonhemolytic field isolates are more virulent then hemolytic ones. These findings are unusual because hemolytic phenotypes are often more virulent in other bacterial species.

published proceedings

  • Avian Dis

author list (cited authors)

  • Walters, J., Evans, R., LeRoith, T., Sriranganathan, N., McElroy, A., & Pierson, F. W.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Walters, J||Evans, R||LeRoith, T||Sriranganathan, N||McElroy, A||Pierson, FW

publication date

  • March 2014