Ground Birds: Health Issues (Diseases, Prevention & Treatment)

  • Aspergillosis. It is aka. brooder pneumonia. The disease is caused by a fungus.
    • Symptoms: Infected chicks lose their appetites but have increased thirst, and they begin gasping or show convulsions.
    • Prevention. Keeping a clean brooder, including all bedding, water drinkers and dishes, as well as improving ventilation in the area will help minimize this disease.
  • Avian Encephalomyelitis.
    • Symptoms: The symptoms of this disease include dull eyes, head and neck tremors, appetite loss and eventual paralysis.
    • Mode of Spread: It is spread through fecal contamination of food and water
    • Treatment. No cureis available and infected chicks will need to be killed and disposed of safely. A vaccine is available and can be effective to prevent the disease if it is administered properly
  • Avian Pox (aka.Fowl Pox):
    • Symptoms: White spots on skin; combs turn into scabby sores; white membrane and ulcers in mouth, on trachea; laying stops; all ages affected.
    • Mode of Spread: Viral disease; mosquitoes, other chickens with pox and contaminated surfaces.
    • Treatment: Supportive care, warm dry quarters, soft food; many birds with good care will survive.
    • Vaccine: It is available. Recovered birds are immune and do not carry the disease any further
  • Botulism:
    • Symptoms: Include remors quickly progressing to paralysis of body, including breathing; feathers pull out easily and death in a few hours.
    • Mode of Spread: Caused by a bacterial byproduct and by eating or drinking botulism-infected food or water
    • Treatment: Antitoxin available from vet but expensive. If found early try 1 teaspoon Epsom salts dissolved in 1 ounce warm water dripped into crop several times a day.
    • Vaccine: Not available. Ideally, locate and remove source, usually decaying carcass, meat near water, or insects that fed on the meat or the water the carcass is in.
  • Fowl or Avian Cholera:
    • Symptoms: Usually birds over 4 months — greenish yellow diarrhea; breathing difficulty; swollen joints; darkened head and wattles; often quick death. Does not infect humans.
    • Mode of Spread: Bacterial disease; wild birds, raccoons, opossums, rats, can carry. Also transmitted bird to bird and on contaminated soil, equipment, shoes, clothing contaminated water and food.
    • Treatment: Not available. Destroy all infected birds if recovery occurs the bird will be a carrier
    • Vaccine available: Yes
  • Infectious Bronchitis
    • Symptoms: Its symptoms are like of a cold-like illness such as gasping and other respiratory trouble, sneezing, watery eye or nasal discharge and loss of appetite.
    • Treatment: Raising the temperature in the brooder slightly (3-5 degrees) can help chicks better resist the infection, and offering a warm, moist mash will help them eat properly as they recover
  • Infectious Coryza:
    • Symptoms: Include Swollen heads, combs, and wattles; eyes swollen shut; sticky discharge from nose and eyes; moist area under wings; laying stops.
    • Mode of Spread: Being bacterial disease it transmits through carrier birds, contaminated surfaces, and drinking water
    • Treatment: Only prevention by destroying the sick birds as they remain carriers for life
    • Vaccine: Not available
  • Marek’s Disease. A type type of cancer that infects young chickens and chicks
    • Symptoms: Include lameness or paralysis as well as blindness or labored breathing.
    • Prevention. Improving ventilation in the coop and brooder can help prevent the disease, as can good cleanliness and the appropriate vaccination
  • Moniliasis (aka.Thrush):
    • Symptoms: Include white cheesy substance in crop; ruffled feathers; droopy looking; poor laying; white crusty vent area; inflamed vent area; increased appetite
    • Mode of Spread: Fungal disease; contracted through moldy feed and water and surfaces contaminated by infected birds. Often occurs after antibiotic treatment for other reasons.
    • Treatment: Yes. Ask a vet for Nystatin or other antifungal medication. Remove moldy feed and disinfect water containers.
    • Vaccine: Not available
  • Mycoplasmosis/CRD/Air Sac Disease:
    • Symptoms: include weakness and poor laying. Problems in breathing, coughing, sneezing, swollen infected joints, death
    • Mode of Spread: Mycoplasma disease; contracted through other birds (wild birds carry it); can transmit through egg to chick from infected hen.
    • Treatment: Antibiotics may save birds — see a vet.
    • Vaccine: Yes
  • Newcastle Disease (N.D.):
    • Symptoms: Include wheezing, breathing difficulty, nasal discharge, cloudy eyes, laying stops, paralysis of legs, wings, twisted heads, necks
    • Mode of Spread: Viral disease; highly contagious; contracted through infected chickens and wild birds and is also carried on shoes, clothes, and surfaces.
    • Treatment: None. Birds under 6 months usually die; older birds can recover. Recovered birds are not carriers.
    • Vaccine: It is available as name of Lasota etc. U.S.A is working to eradicate the disease permanantly
  • Omphalitis (aka. Mushy Chick):
    • Symptoms: For Newly hatched chicks — enlarged, bluish, inflamed naval area, bad smell, drowsy, weak chicks
    • Mode of Spread: Bacterial infection of naval. Can spread from chick to chick on contaminated surfaces.
    • Treatment: Antibiotics and clean housing sometimes help, but most chicks will die. Remove healthy chicks immediately to clean quarters.
    • Vaccine: Not available. Staph and strep that cause this disease may infect humans
  • Pullorum:
    • Symptoms: Chicks are inactive, may have white diarrhea with pasted rear ends, breathing difficulty, or die without symptoms. Older birds — coughing, sneezing, poor laying.
    • Mode of Spread: Viral disease; contracted through carrier birds and contaminated surfaces, clothing, and shoes.
    • Treatment: Destroy all infected birds — birds that recover are carriers. Most chicks infected will die.
    • Vaccine: Not available but there is a blood test to find carriers
  • Rot Gut
    • Symptoms: This is a bacterial infection which causes rotten-smelling diarrhea and signs of listlessness or depression in infected chicks.
    • Mode of Spread. The infection spreads largely through overcrowding
    • Prevention. Keeping chicks in a properly-sized brooder will help reduce the risk of infection. Regular cleaning is essential to minimize the disease, and antibiotics administered in the water can help cure infected chicks
  • Medicines. There are many different types of drugs available that can be added to poultry feed to prevent and treat illnesses and parasites.
  • Antibiotics. Acceptable antibiotics strains which are recommended for poultry production include the following:
    • Bacitracin
    • Chlortetracycline
    • Lincomycin
    • Oxytetracycline
    • Penicillin
    • Tylosin
    • Virginiamycin
    • Ionophores
  • Coccidiostats
  • Coccidiosis is a common parasitic disease of poultry. It is the result of an infestation of coccidia in the intestines. A number of different drugs, called coccidiostats, are available for use in conventional diets to control coccidiosis in poultry. Coccidiostats that can be used in conventional poultry production include the following:
    • Amprolium Bambermycin
    • Decoquinate
    • Diclazuril
    • Halofuginone hydrobromide
    • Lasalocid
    • Monensin
    • Narasin
    • Nicarbazin
    • Salinomycin
    • Semduramicin
    • Sulfadimethoxine and ormetoprim
  • Medications for Controlling Intestinal Worms. Many types of parasitic worm that can infest poultry, including roundworm, tapeworm, cecal worms, and capillary worms. There are only a few products that can be added to conventional poultry feed to control internal parasites. No products are approved for use with egg-laying hens. Acceptable medicinal salts for worm control include the following:
    • Albendazole
    • Hygromycin B
  • Medications for Controlling External Parasites. Many types of external parasite can infest a poultry flock. Typical pesticides (salt only) used for control of external parasites include:
    • Permethrin-based medications
    • Tetrachlorvinphos-based medications
    • Carbaryl-based
  • Medications for Controlling Beetles. Beetles are a common problem in poultry facilities. The adults are black with hardened front wings and antennae that start under a ridge near the eyes. The larvae are worm-like and slightly hardened for burrowing. Both the larvae and beetles eat decaying leaves, sticks, grass, dead insects, feces, and grains. Brand-name products that can be used to control darkling beetles include the following:
    • Credo
    • Tempo
  • Medications for Fly Control. Compounds that can be added to conventional feed to aid in fly control in poultry houses include the use of Cyromazine
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