2010 - 2013

The pathogenesis and control of necrotic enteritis in broiler chickens

Principal Investigator: John Prescott, University of Guelph
Status: Completed


To develop an oral vaccine to control necrotic enteritis


Necrotic Enteritis (NE) is among the most common enteric (intestinal) diseases in poultry. It costs the global poultry industry an estimated $2 billion annually. It is well documented that NE is caused by the bacterium Clostridium perfringens yet, despite extensive study, it is still not clear why certain strains of C. perfringensare able to cause the disease and others are not. Dr. Prescott’s group has confirmed there are specific genes associated with the bacterium’s ability to cause disease. Their work has since revealed that many of these so-called ‘virulence’ genes can be readily passed from one bacterium to another, thereby conferring the ability to cause disease. The scientists are now characterizing the roles these genes play in development of NE, and integrating what they learn into the design of new vaccines that can protect poultry from the disease.


A prototype vaccine has already been produced that, according to preliminary results, can effectively protect immunized birds from NE.


If these results are confirmed, the newly developed vaccine may have a significant impact on the poultry industry in Canada and abroad.


$660,251 ($532,126 AAFC*, $84,000 OMAFRA, $44,125 PIC)


Lepp, D., J. Gong, J. G. Songer, P. Boerlin, V. R. Parreira and J. F. Prescott. 2013. Identification of Accessory Genome Regions in Poultry Clostridium perfringens Isolates Carrying the netB Plasmid. J. Bacteriol. 195:1152. Parreira VR, Costa M, Eikmeyer F, Blom J, Prescott JF (2012) Sequence of Two Plasmids from Clostridium perfringens Chicken Necrotic Enteritis Isolates and Comparison with C. perfringens Conjugative Plasmids. PLoS ONE 7(11). Shojadoost1, B., A.R. Vince and J.F. Prescott. 2012. The successful experimental induction of necrotic enteritis in chickens by Clostridium perfringens: a critical review. Veterinary Research 2012, 43:74.


*This research was part of the 2010-2013 Poultry Science Cluster which was supported by AAFC as part of Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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