The condition known as spotty liver disease or spotty liver syndrome can cause significant mortality in free range laying hen flocks. It has been described in Europe and Australia but the aetiology has not been established. There are similarities between spotty liver disease and avian vibrionic hepatitis, a condition which was reported in the 1950s. A Vibrio-like organism was suspected to be the cause of avian vibrionic hepatitis, although this organism was never fully characterised.We report the isolation of a novel Campylobacter from five separate outbreaks of spotty liver disease. The conditions required for culture, the growth characteristics, electron microscopical morphology and results of the phenotypic tests used in the identification of this novel Campylobacter sp. are described. The novel Campylobacter is slow growing and fastidious and does not grow on media routinely used for isolating Campylobacter sp. The morphology is typical for a Campylobacter sp. and phenotypic tests and a duplex real time PCR test differentiate the novel Campylobacter from other members of the genus. 16S rRNA analysis of 19 isolates showed an identical sequence which appears to represent a hitherto unknown sub lineage within the genus Campylobacter. Experimental intraperitoneal infection of four week old SPF chickens produced microscopic liver pathology indistinguishable from natural disease and the novel Campylobacter was recovered from the experimentally infected chicks. The isolates described appear to be a possible causal organism for spotty liver disease.
Crawshaw, T. R., Chanter, J. I., Young, S. C. L., Cawthraw, S., Whatmore, A. M., Koylass, M. S., Vidal, A. B., Salguero, F. J., & Irvine, R. M. (2015). Isolation of a novel thermophilic Campylobacter from cases of spotty liver disease in laying hens and experimental reproduction of infection and microscopic pathology. Veterinary Microbiology, 179(3-4), 315-321. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetmic.2015.06.008