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2007, Vol 2 No 1, Article 15


Shigellosis Outbreak in Poultry and its Management with


Ciprofloxacin and a Homeopathic Drug Aconitum napellus



K. A. Shah1 & S. Qureshi2

1Laboratory Officer (Poultry), Disease Investigation Laboratory, Institute of Animal Health  & Biological Production, Zakura, Animal Husbandry Department-Kashmir, Srinagar, Kashmir, India

2Assistant Professor, Division of Veterinary. Microbiology & Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences & Animal Husbandry (SKUAST-K), Shuhama, Alusteng, Srinagar, Kashmir, India



An outbreak of dysenteric diarrhoea was encountered in 2-3 months old birds in an organised

poultry farm at Srinagar. Microscopic examination of cloacal swabs and morbid material revealed

infection with Shigella flexneri. Antibiogram of the isolates showed sensitivity to ciprofloxacin, amikacin

and gentamicin but resistance to ampicillin, cloxacillin, norfloxacin, penicillin, and chlortetracycline.

Administration of homeopathic medicine Aconitum napellus coupled with ciprofloxacin controlled the

disease successfully.


Shigellosis is an important cause of various diseases of livestock resulting in high morbidity and mortality.

Perusal of literature reveals very scanty information on incidence of Shigellosis in poultry.

Present communication records an outbreak of shigellosis and its successful treatment using ciprofloxacin along with homeopathic medicine Aconitum napellus in an organised poultry farm.


Four carcasses from an organized poultry farm were presented at Poultry Disease Investigation Laboratory, Hariparbath for post-mortem examination. All carcasses were having pale combs and wattles with soiled. Gross and microscopic examination of gut contents was conducted to rule out any sort of parasitism.

On spot inspection of the affected flock revealed morbidity of 25%. Birds manifested signs of dullness, depression, dysentery and heat intolerance. Cloacal swabs and pieces of intestine, spleen and liver were aseptically collected and subjected to culture tests at Institute of Animal Health and Biological Products, Zakura. The procedure outlined by Edwards and Ewing (1972) and Cruickshank et al, (1975) were adopted to identify bacterial growth on the basis of their cultural, morphological and biochemical characteristics. Disc diffusion method as described by Cruickshank et al, (1975) was followed to study drug sensitivity pattern of the isolates.

Homeopathic medicine Aconitum napellus (Monkshood) @ 5 drops/lit administered in cool hours of the day in drinking water sufficient to consume in two hours was followed by 500mg ciprofloxacin/lit for three days. The concentration of ciprofloxacin in the drinking water was kept less than the recommended ones for treatment of dysentery in poultry.


Bacteriological examination of cloacal swabs and morbid material revealed infection with Shigella. The cultures were confirmed as Shigella flexneri on the basis of standard morphological and biochemical tests as described by Buchanan and Gibbon (1994). Shigella flexneri has been reported earlier by Bhatia and Phathak (1978) in parakeets. Calnek et al, (1991) and Tuttura et al, (1996) also reported Shigella species in poultry. Anti-biogram of isolates showed sensitivity to ciprofloxacin, amikacin and gentamicin with a maximum zone of inhibition for ciprofloxacin and minimum for gentamicin and resistance to ampicillin, cloxacillin, norfloxacin, penicillin, enrofloxacin and chloramphenicol. This sensitivity profile is in accordance with observations of Verma et al, (2002) in owls. Clinical signs of dullness, depression, dysenteric diarrhoea observed during present trial were in conformity with the observations of Verma et al, (2002) in owls.

Post-mortem examination revealed haemorrhagic intestinal mucosa and necrotic foci both in liver and spleen. Necropsy findings of severe enteritis with slight haemorrhages on intestinal mucosa are in accordance with reports of Gove Hambidge (2004). Pfaff (1905) isolated Shigella pfaffi from canary birds that had died of acute infection exhibiting signs of severe enteritis, diarrhoea with necrotic foci on liver and spleen. Verma et al, (2002) isolated Shigella dysenteriae from owls manifesting symptoms of severe enteritis, diarrhoea and pyrexia.

Following the combination treatment, 80% of the birds recovered and mortality was controlled within three days after cessation of treatment. In homeopathic system of medicine Aconitum napellus is indicated in the inflammation of bowels, pyrexia and dysentery (Edwd 2002 & Shah et al, 2003). In present trial Aconitum napellus might have activated immune system to combat heat intolerance, inflammation of bowels and dysentery more effectively when administered with ciprofloxacin at the initial stage of ailment.

The reduction in dose of ciprofloxacin as well as the duration of its administration when given in combination with Aconitum napellus may prove helpful in reducing exposure of poultry birds to high and prolonged doses of antibiotics in treatment of dysenteric gut infections.



The author is grateful to Joint Director, Institute Animal Health & Biological Products, Zakura, for providing facilities and valuable guidance as well.


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