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AVIAN intestinal spirochaetosis (AIS) is characterised by colonisation of the caecum of birds with spirochaetes of the genus Brachyspira (formerly Serpulina). In chickens the effects of colonisation vary from subclinical to an association with wet faeces and reduced egg production (Hampson 2013). Spirochaetes have been found in the caecal contents of pheasants (Phasianus colchicus), including B (S) pilosicoli in two immature pheasants (Webb and others 1997) and B pilosicoli, B intermedia and unclassified spirochaetes in adult pheasants in Sweden (Jansson and others 2001), but in both reports the significance was uncertain. Little is known of any role that AIS may play in enteric disease in commercially reared pheasants. This communication describes the results of a case-control study designed to examine the association between the presence of Brachyspira species and abnormal caecal contents, as an indicator of enteric disease in reared pheasants.
The pheasants used for the study were submitted for routine diagnostic postmortem examination, regardless of the clinical history, to six Veterinary Laboratories Agency (now Animal and Plant Health Agency) regional laboratories and six private veterinary practices in England. The age of the birds was recorded, and the appearance of the caecal contents of at least two birds was assessed in terms of colour and consistency according to a standard protocol. Caecal contents that were dark greenish brown in colour, with a firm consistency, were assessed as normal and categorised …