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Avian Practice
Differential diagnosis of sudden high mortality in poultry and game birds
  1. Paul McMullin

    Paul McMullin qualified from Dublin in 1975. He initially spent two years in research and practice, followed by 12 years in Brazil working within the poultry and pharmaceutical industries. He is now managing director and senior veterinarian of Poultry Health Services, a specialist poultry practice based in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Cambridgeshire. He is an RCVS specialist in poultry medicine and production, and is the current junior vice president of the British Veterinary Poultry Association.


MAJOR outbreaks of avian influenza have occurred in a number of countries over the past few years. The Asian H5N1 strain, much in the news, emerged in geese in the Guangdong province of China in 1996, and was first associated with human infection in Hong Kong in 1997. In 2005/06, it spread westwards to Eurasia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It has been associated with mortality in wild birds, village chickens and, in some countries, commercial poultry, and presents a significant threat to poultry and game bird producers. Sudden increased mortality in poultry and game birds is a likely presenting complaint in cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza. This article reviews the differential diagnosis of sudden high mortality in these species.

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