Aflatoxicosis in the broiler chicken

Author(s): Smith JW, Hamilton PB


Aflatoxicosis represents one of the serious diseases of poultry, livestock and other animals. The cause of this disease in poultry and other food-producing animals has been attributed to the ingestion of various feeds contaminated with A. flavus. This toxigenic fungus is known to produce a group of extremely toxic metabolites, of which aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is most potent. Avian species especially chicks, goslings, ducklings and turkey poults are most susceptible to AFB1 toxicity. The toxic effects of AFB1 are mainly localized in liver as manifested by hepatic necrosis, bile duct proliferation, icterus and hemorrhage. Chronic toxicity in those birds is characterized by loss of weight, decline in feed efficiency, drop in egg production and increased susceptibility to infections. The incidence of hepatocellular tumors, particularly in ducklings, is considered to be one of the serious consequences of aflatoxicosis. Even though prevention and avoidance are the best way to control aflatoxicosis, natural contamination of crops with A. flavus is sometimes unavoidable. Such aflatoxin-contaminated feeds can be decontaminated using various methods which mainly focus on physical removal or chemical inactivation of the toxins in the feeds. Moreover, dietary additives such as activated charcoal, phenobarbital, cysteine, glutathione, betacarotene, fisetin and selenium have also been reported to be effective in the reduction of aflatoxicosis in poultry.

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