Retrospective analysis of necrotizing typhlitis cases associated with Brachyspira spp. in British rheas.

Harriet McFadzean*, Alex Schock, Emma Stubberfield, Roderick M Card, Jill Thomson, Judith Rohde, Laura Murray, Elena Velo-Rego, Heather Ainsworth, Alex M Barlow, David Welchman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper describes a retrospective analysis of necrotizing typhlitis in common rheas ( Rhea americana) diagnosed in the United Kingdom by the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA). From January 2008 to January 2020, seven cases of spirochaetal typhlitis associated with Brachyspira spp. were identified using the Veterinary Investigation Diagnosis Analysis database. Gross examination was combined with selective anaerobic culture, polymerase chain reaction, and histopathology to diagnose typhlitis associated with spirochaetal infection. Whole-genome sequencing was subsequently utilized on archived isolates from six of the seven submissions, overcoming issues with traditional testing methods and yielded gains in the identification of Brachyspira to species level. Brachyspira hyodysenteriae, an organism traditionally associated with typhlitis in rheas, was isolated in three sequenced submissions. One of these also demonstrated co-infection with Brachyspira intermedia. Brachyspira suanatina, Brachyspira hampsonii, and Brachyspira alvinipulli were identified by sequencing as single infections in the remaining three animals. This report demonstrates the ability of Brachyspira species other than B. hyodysenteriae to colonize the caeca of rheas presenting with typhlitis. Additionally, the B. alvinipulli isolate harboured a tva(A) gene, indicating higher potential pleuromutilin resistance, which has not previously been described in this Brachyspira species. This study discusses the epidemiology of examined cases and examines the potential role other species may play in these outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-256
Number of pages11
JournalAvian Pathology
Issue number3
Early online date21 Apr 2021
Publication statusFirst published - 21 Apr 2021


  • Brachyspira spp
  • Rhea
  • intestinal spirochaete
  • sequencing
  • tva(A) gene
  • typhlitis


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