The problem of eradicating ovarian infection in the domestic fowl assumes still greater importance than heretofore, in the light of data recently acquired. Not only is it of great significance to eliminate the permanent carriers of Bacterium pullorum from all flocks of fowls from the standpoint of successful poultry breeding, but also because they constitute a possible source of danger to man.
Eggs which harbor Bacterium pullorum in the yolk in large numbers may produce abnormal conditions, when fed, not only in young chicks, but in adult fowls, young rabbits, guinea pigs, and kittens. The toxicity for young rabbits is most pronounced, the infection usually resulting in the death of the animals. In kittens the most prominent symptoms are those of severe food-poisoning with members of the paratyphoid group of bacteria. The possibility of infected eggs causing serious disturbances in young children and in the sick and convalescent of all ages must therefore receive serious consideration.
Ovarian infection of fowls is very common throughout this country. Hence, a large proportion of the marketed eggs are infected with Bacterium pullorum. When such eggs are allowed to remain in nests under broody hens, or in warm storage places, for comparatively few hours, they contain large numbers of the organism.
Soft boiling, coddling, and frying on one side only do not necessarily render the yolks free from viable bacteria; therefore, eggs which have gone through these processes may, like raw eggs, be the cause of serious disturbances in persons who are particularly susceptible to such influences, and especially to infants.
That no well authenticated instances of egg-poisoning of this kind are on record does not warrant the assumption that there have been no cases. The etiology of infantile stomach and intestinal disturbances is as yet too little understood; in fact, it may be said that many of these disorders have no known cause, and almost as much may be said regarding gastro-intestinal diseases in later life. Furthermore, since the ailments caused by infected eggs would not make themselves felt presumably until several days after their ingestion, little or no suspicion would fall upon the eggs. It may be said, too, that the wide distribution of ovarian infection in the domestic fowl has come about only in the last few years, hence its possible danger to man is one of recent development.