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Pheasant ataxia: a new condition in pheasant poults
  1. D. de B. Welchman, MA, VetMB, PhD, MRCVS1,
  2. H. L. Ainsworth, BVSc, CertPMP, MRCVS2,
  3. T. W. Pennycott, BVM&S, CertPMP, MRCVS3,
  4. G. MacKenzie, BVMS, PhD, MRCVS4 and
  5. A. M. Wood, BVMS, MRCVS, DipRCPath4
  1. 1 Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Itchen Abbas,Winchester S021 IBX
  2. 2 Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Rougham Hill, Bury St Edmunds IP33 2RX
  3. 3 SAC Veterinary Science Division, Avian Health Unit, Ayr KA6 5AE
  4. 4 Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Lasswade Veterinary Laboratory, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 OPZ


Between 1995 and 1997 a neurological condition in pheasant poults from 24 sites in England and Scotland was investigated. Affected birds showed varying degrees of ataxia and incoordinated movements and, in severe cases, recumbency, but generally remained alert with their heads held upright. The condition characteristically affected poults from seven weeks of age and the incidence on any one site was low. No significant bacteria were isolated consistently from brain tissue. The condition was characterised histologically by a non-suppurative meningoencephalitis, in which lesions were found predominantly in the cerebellum in 61 of 81 samples examined (75.3 per cent). A non-suppurative myelitis was recorded in 16 of 20 spinal cords examined. No lesions were recorded in peripheral neural tissue and lesions were rare in other tissues. The condition appeared not to have been recorded previously in pheasants. A viral aetiology was suspected but Newcastle disease virus was not involved.

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