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Common Diseases of Poultry

1. Avian Influenza
 Marked depression, loss of appetite and watery diarrhoea
 Coughing, sneezing, rales, excessive lacrimation
 Drop in egg production in layers
 The conjunctiva is congested and swollen, and occasionally haemorrhagic.
 Swollen combs with cyanotic tips and hemorrhagic surface
 Edematous wattles (Fig. 187) and edema around the eyes, head and neck
 Ruffled feathers and dark red skin (Fig. 188)
 Diffuse haemorrhages between the hocks and feet
 Blood in the cloaca
 Some birds may recover, even after being severely affected.
 Birds that die with the peracute form of AI may show no significant
gross lesions
 Dehydration
 In highly pathogenic influenza virus, fibrinous exudate is found in
airsacs, oviduct, peritoneum and pericardial sacs.
2. Newcastle Disease

o Depression and loss of appetite
o Sudden death
o Edema of the head. Swelling of the lower eyelid, often accompanied
by conjunctivitis
o Dark ring around the eye (black eye)
o Excessive fluids from the respiratory tract
o Paralyzed wings and twisting of the head and neck (torticollis)
Acute form
o Peracute deaths will often show no discernible lesions in some of the
first birds dying in an outbreak.
o The oesophagus shows haemorrhage and erosions.
o Edema of the head and neck
o The mucosa of the trachea is frequently haemorrhagic
o Haemorrhages are throughout the gastrointestinal tract with a
tendency to ulcerate and become necrotic as the disease progresses.
o In the intestine there is generally an inflammatory response and
marked involvement of the caecal tonsils and Peyer's patches
o The mucosal lining of the proventriculus is a frequent site of
haemorrhage, especially at the junction between the oesophagus and
o Edematous or haemorrhagic ovaries
o In hens that have survived the disease, there is a
tendency to lay misshapen eggs or develop egg yolk

Chronic form:
o Catarrhal inflammation of the respiratory system
o Edema in surrounding connective tissue
3. Fowl Pox

Cutaneous form (dry form)
o Low mortality
o Lack of flock vigour and weight loss
o A mild to moderate loss in egg production
o Scabby lesions on the head, neck and unfeathered parts
of the skin

Diphtheric form (wet form)

o Mortality low to moderate
o Difficult breathing, Inappetence
o Nasal and ocular discharge
The following stages of the pox lesions papules,
vesicles and pustules may be observed.

Cutaneous lesions
o Papules are light colored nodules.
o Vesicles and pustules are raised and commonly yellow.

Diphtheric lesions
o Buff to yellow plaques on mucous membranes in the
mouth esophagus and upper respiratory tract
o Occlusion of trachea, and death due to asphyxiation
4. Infectious Coryza

o Respiratory signs
o Swelling of face and comb
o Paleness and weakness
o Loss of appetite, lameness
o Reduced egg production and poor shell quality
o Massive death
5. Fowl Cholera

Acute septicemic form
1. High morbidity and mortality and sudden death
2. Dead birds may be found on dropping boards or in nests.
3. Depressed, cyanotic and loss of appetite
4. Nasal and oral discharge
5. Greenish diarrhoea
6. The comb may be swollen and bluish discoloration
7. Emaciated
Chronic fowl cholera
 Swelling of wattles, sinuses, joints, foot pad and tendon
 Cheesy exudate in the conjunctival sac
 Twisting of the head and neck may be observed in some
 Middle ear infection is rare but occurs when the bacterial
agent reaches the middle ear through the nasal cavity.
 The bird may lose its sense of balance with the head and
neck twisted to one side.
 If both ears are infected, the bird's head and neck are pulled
back over the body and between the legs.
In the very acute stages, lesions may be lacking.
 Caseous exudate in wattles, sinuses, the nasal turbinates, middle
ear, joints or tendon sheaths.
 Petechial and ecchymotic haemorrhages on the heart, serous and
mucous membranes, on the gizzard and abdominal fat.
 The liver is swollen and is streaked with white areas and
associated small grey areas of necrosis (corn meal liver).
 Thickened pleura in the lungs and slight bilateral congestion.
 Free yolk in the peritoneal cavity in breeder hens and layers.
 Acute oophoritis and peritonitis are often seen.
 The lining of the upper intestine is reddened and gut content is
In chronic cases
 Darkened breast muscle is frequently noted and haemorrhagic
lesions are often missing.
 Serous membranes and abdominal fat- presence of multiple
petecchial and ecchymotic hemorrhages.
Some important duck diseases confirmed
reported to be present locally are as follows:

Bacterial Diseases: Duck are susceptible to a

number of bacterial infections. In most cases ,
mixed infection with two or more pathogenic
microorganisms were isolated, thus making
specific diagnosis difficult.
1. Duck Cholera. This is the most common
disease in most duck farms, it is an acute or
chronic, localized or generalized infectious
disease with high morbidity and mortality
rates. It occurs in four forms based on
clinical manifestations named locally as
‘tanga’, ‘dapa’, ‘tuyo’, and ‘buto-buto’.
Causative Agents: It is caused principally by a
microorganism known as Pasteurella multicidal, but
other pathogens like Salmonelia, Especherichia,
Clostridium, and Aspergillus have been implicated.
Duck cholera can be transmitted by direct contact,
ingestion of contaminated feed and drinking water, and
by blood-sucking insects particularly mosquitoes.
Clinical Sign: ‘Tanga’ is the most acute form of the
disease. The ducks may die suddenly, assuming a
ventral recumbent position with extended head, open
eyes in a staring manner, and open mouth. Some dead
ducks may appear like statues and only close scrutiny
will reveal that they are dead mortality ranges from 70-
90%. ‘Dapa’ is characterized by egg-laying posture with
head and neck in stooping position.
Other signs are ventro-lateral recumbency with twisted
head and neck, depression, weakness, loss of
appetite, absence of egg production, and excessive
intake of water (polydypsia).
Sick ducks do not smeared with feces and dirts.
Mortality is lower than that of ‘tanga’ but morbidity
may reach 90%.
‘Tuyo’ is the chronic from of ‘dapa’ characterized by
progressive emaciation and dehydration, weakness,
poor appetite, and ruffled skin and bone condition;
hence, the term ‘tuyo’. ‘Tuyo’ usually occurs after an
outbreak of ‘dapa’ and persist for weeks or month
before death.
‘Buto-buto’ is another chronic from of duck cholera
characterized by hard swelling of the leg joints (bony
It can persist for long periods. Affected ducks may have
limping gait and left behind when flock is driven away.

Treatment. It can be treated by high level antibiotic and

sulfa drug therapy.
Prevention. This disease can be prevented by:
a) strict sanitation;
b) b) thorough cleaning of feeding and drinking troughs;
c) c) provision of fresh and clean water at all times;
d) d) immediate isolation of sick ducks; and e) vaccination
with polyvalent vaccine.
2. Salmonellosis. This is a destructive disease of ducklings.
Causative Agents: Salmonella anatum and S. typhimurium
Signs: sudden collapse, diarrhea and dehydration ruffled
feathers, dry sunken eyes, and leg swelling. It is principally
transmitted through direct contact and ingestion of
contaminated feed and water.
Treatment. It can be treated by high level antibiotic or sulfa drug
Prevention. This disease can be prevented by
a) strict sanitation;
b) thorough and frequent cleaning and disaffection of feeding
and watering troughs; and
c) cleaning, drying, and draining of liter and ground.
Viral Diseases
Two dreaded viral diseases of ducks which have not
been confirmed locally but present in most neighboring
countries are duck plague and duck hepatitis.
Disease outbreaks of these nature may have occurred
locally but not properly documented.
Guides for the recognition of these diseases are given
Suspected outbreak should be reported immediately to
the Bureau of Animal Industry, Department of
Duck plague.
Signs.This is an acute contagious disease of ducks of all aged,
characterized by sudden onset, high mortality and extreme
weakness. It is caused by a herpes virus acquired usually by
direct contact or ingestion of contaminated feed and water.
The significant clinical manifestations are sudden onset,
extreme weakness, lethargy, loss of appetite, watery diarrhea,
soiled vent, eye and nasal discharges labored breathing
decreased egg production, and high mortality rate of 40-80%.
The important lesions are hemorrhages throughout the body
which are more pronounced in the visceral organs.
Control. This viral disease can be controlled by a) vaccination of
healthy ducks; b) strict sanitation; c) immediate isolation of
sick ducks; and d) high level antibiotic vitamin mineral-
Viral hepatitis.
This is an acute highly contagious viral disease of ducklings
below four weeks old. It is characterized by short
incubation period, sudden onset, and high mortality rate of
up to 90%. it is caused by a virus and transmitted usually
through direct contact or ingestion of contaminated feed
and water.
Signs. The main clinical signs are lethargy, spasmodic
paddling of feet, sudden death, and high mortality rate. It
only affects ducklings below four weeks old. On necropsy,
the constant lesion is enlargement of the liver with
hemorrhages of various sizes.
Control. This viral disease can be controlled by strict
sanitation and vaccination of healthy flock.
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