Necrotic Enteritis – Can You Tackle this Disease with Probiotics?

A multispecies probiotic reduces necrotic enteritis, according to Michaela Mohnl of Biomin.

Necrotic enteritis (NE) is one of the world’s most common and financially crippling poultry diseases which when triggered, can cause mortality rates of up to 50 per cent (McDevitt et al., 2006). Necrotic enteritis and the subclinical form of Clostridium perfringens infections in poultry are caused by C. perfringens type A, that carry the newly identified netB toxin (Van Immerseel et al., 2009). In the commercial poultry industry, there are many management tools used to control enteric pathogens including antibiotics, vaccines, acidifiers, phytogenics, prebiotics and probiotics. 

The use of specific probiotics and synbiotics have been shown to be an effective means of manipulating or managing the composition of the microbial population in the gastrointestinal tract of poultry and thus protecting poultry flocks from infections with pathogenic bacteria. In view of the worldwide spreading ban of antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) and the rising concerns of consumers with the use of antibiotics in animal production, the evaluation of alternatives to antibiotics, becomes more appealing to the commercial poultry industry. 

In order to serve the needs of the industry, Biomin initiated a multinational research project, which was funded by the European Union in order to develop a well-defined, host-specific, multispecies probiotic product for poultry. Numerous intestinal bacteria were isolated out of the gut of several healthy chickens and thoroughly characterized combining morphological, physiological and genotypic methods. The most promising strains were evaluated for important probiotic criteria. Based on these results a probiotic product consisting of five well-defined strains belonging to the generaEnterococcus, Pediococcus, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium was designed (PoultryStar®, Biomin). As the probiotic strains were able to inhibit Clostridium perfringens, the main causative agent of necrotic enteritis (NE), in vitro with good reproducibility of results, it was decided to evaluate the effect of the product on NE in the course of in vivo experiments. 

A series of studies, which were conducted at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigated the effect of the probiotic product on the development of experimentally induced NE in broilers (McReynolds et al., 2009). The researchers could show that the multispecies probiotic product was able to significantly reduce the lesion scores (P<0.05) in comparison to the NE challenged positive control group and even maintain the lesion scores, mortality and bacterial counts to the level of the unchallenged negative control birds. Further experiments were carried out from a research group at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University in order to study the effects of the multispecies probiotic product on the development of necrotic enteritis in broilers using a subclinical necrotic enteritis model to reproduce the disease (Mohnl et al., 2010). Results showed that in the probiotic group a significantly (P<0.05) lower amount of birds showed necrotic lesions in comparison to the positive control group. In conclusion, the data of these studies suggest that the multispecies probiotic may be beneficial in the control of poultry diseases which are related to Clostridium perfringens like necrotic enteritis.


McDevitt, R.M., Brooker, J.D., Aacamovic T. and Sparks, N.H.C. 2006. Necrotic enteritis; a continuing challenge for the poultry industry. World´s Poultry Science Journal 62:221-247.

McReynolds, J., Waneck, C., Byrd, J., Genovese, K., Duke, S. and Nisbet, D. 2009. Efficacy of multistrain direct-fed microbial and phytogenetic products in reducing necrotic enteritis in commercial broilers. Poultry Science, 88:2075–2080.

Mohnl M., F. Van Immerseel, R. Ducatelle and G. Schatzmayr. 2010. Inhibition of Clostridium perfringens through probiotic strains and efficacy of multispecies probiotic to reduce necrotic enteritis in poultry. XIIIth European Poultry Conference, Tours. France, 23-27 August 2010, Book of Abstracts, p. 254

Van Immerseel, F., Rood I., Moore J. and Titball, R. 2009. Rethinking our understanding of the pathogenesis of necrotic enteritis in chickens. Trends in Microbiology, 17(1):32-36

Courtesy thepoultysite

Muhammad Ramzan Rafique
Muhammad Ramzan Rafique

I am from a small town Chichawatni, Sahiwal, Punjab , Pakistan, studied from University of Agriculture Faisalabad, on my mission to explore world I am in Denmark these days..

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