M01035: A mini review of the causes and incidence of pericarditis in poultry
Thursday 24 November 2005
This research project is a review to establish the incidence and causes of pericarditis in UK poultry.
The Poultry Meat, Farmed Game Bird Meat and Rabbit Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995 states that 'Birds shall be declared unfit for human consumption where the post-mortem health inspection reveals any of the following diseases or conditions:....'. Included in the list is pericarditis.
In the UK, the presence of pericarditis in a poultry carcass generally results in whole carcass rejection at post-mortem. This is primarily because, historically, the condition has been associated with salmonella infection.
Therefore this review was commissioned to enable possible risk questions to be proposed and establish whether current poultry inspection practices should be revised.
The review will be conducted using a combination of published literature and information from experts.
This review was carried out to establish the incidence and causes of pericarditis in UK poultry and to enable possible risk questions to be proposed which, through further work, could establish whether current poultry inspection and rejection practices are appropriate and proportional.
Key findings from the review are summarised below.
- Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium, a fibroserous sac that encloses and lubricates the heart. In the UK, the presence of pericarditis in a poultry carcass generally results in whole carcass rejection at post-mortem inspection. This is because, historically, the condition has been associated with salmonella infection.
- Recent data on the incidence of pericarditis in UK poultry is limited as, other than MHS data, much of this information is generated by private poultry producers and kept confidential. However, figures available reveal a low overall incidence (0.004%-0.13%) of pericarditis in UK poultry.
- A large number of potential causes of pericarditis in poultry were identified from literature searches and include bacterial and viral agents. UK experts and literature indicate that pericarditis commonly occurs together with other conditions (i.e. respiratory tract lesions) following bacteraemia or septicaemia with the majority of cases due to E .coli infection.
- Within the last twenty years it appears the incidence of pericarditis caused by Salmonella infection has declined and therefore the rejection of birds with pericarditis lesions alone in order to protect public health may no longer be necessary. This may be the result of decreased overall prevalence of Salmonella in UK poultry flocks.
- In the UK, visual inspection is used to determine gross lesions in poultry meat. Where high-speed lines are used, decisions on whether potentially hazardous lesions require whole carcass or organ condemnation need to be judged quickly. Justification is needed where isolated lesions occur and only rejection of the affected part of the carcass is warranted. A qualitative risk assessment to assess if entire carcass rejection is justified in all cases in terms of the implications on human health from pericarditis in poultry at slaughter is suggested.
The final report is available from the Agency’s Information Centre.
To obtain a copy, please contact the Enquiry Desk, Information Services, Food Standards Agency (tel: 020 7276 8181/8182 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
For any enquiries concerning this research project, please contact the relevant Programme contact or email: email@example.com