Monday, July 4News That Matters

10 Most Common Chicken Viruses, Diseases, and Treatments

There are basically thousands of chicken diseases discovered and recorded by scientists and veterinarians around the world but there are 10 of these that are most common, fatal, and very contagious.

Here in the Philippines, we used to grow native chickens. Although fatalities in native chickens are lower compared to imported broilers and American heritage breeds, having knowledge about these diseases, prevention, and treatment is still essential to protect our flock regardless of breeds.

We may not used to giving vaccines to our native chickens but experiences suggest that when poultry pests like avian flu (peste) strikes, nothing is left. Therefore, regardless of what type of chicken we are rearing, it is important to administer the vaccination to protect not only the lives of our flock but also our investments and livelihood.

Image credit Hendrix Genetics

Although vaccination is very important, the process does not stop there. As long as we have chickens, we should be aware of the following common chicken diseases and illnesses and how can we prevent and treat them.

1. Newcastle Disease

Newcastle disease is an infection of all types of bird species including chickens with virulent Newcastle disease virus (NDV). It is a worldwide problem that presents primarily as an acute respiratory disease, but depression, nervous manifestations, or diarrhea may be the predominant clinical form. NCD can only be prevented by giving your chickens NCD B1B1 and NCD Lasota vaccines. NCD B1B1 and NCD Lasota vaccines are available all over the country especially in bigger poultry supply and AgriVet stores.  See the vaccination guide.

2. Fowl Pox

Fowlpox is one of the many challenges chicken raisers are facing. Fowlpox can cause blindness and depression that could result in fatality. There is a vaccine for fowlpox but if you missed administering the vaccine, you can give infected chickens thymol. Popular brand names are Mothyl-X and Fowl-Poxvet

3. Fowl Cholera

Fowl cholera is a contagious, bacterial disease caused by Pasteurella multocida. Acutely, it causes elevated mortality. Chronically, it causes lameness, swollen wattles, pneumonia, and torticollis, but it can also be asymptomatic. Fowl Cholera can be contracted from wild animals or food and water that has been contaminated by this bacteria. You can use Amoxtin, Premoxil, Dovitron, or any Amoxicillin-based antibiotics.

4. Marek’s Disease

Marek’s Disease is by far one of the most common illnesses in small flocks and not treatable once the clinical signs have begun. Yet, it is one of the most preventable illnesses out there. Marek’s disease can be prevented through vaccination (see vaccination guide). When your healthy chicken starts to act like it is being paralyzed, it means symptoms of Marek’s disease start to appear. Marek’s disease occurs between 2 to 12 weeks of chicken’s age and can happen at any given time even the chicken is healthy. If your healthy chicken cannot stand then it is likely to have Marek’s disease.

5. Infectious Coryza

Coryza is the most common chicken disease in the Philippines and is hard to treat especially when severe. The disease is caused by a bacterium known as Hemophilus gallinarum. Outbreaks usually result from the introduction of infected or carrier birds into a flock. The chicken can get this disease through contaminated water and contaminated surfaces. Although there are some injectable drugs like L-Spec, proper management, and care are needed to treat this complicated disease. See this detailed guide on how to treat colds before becoming coryza.

6. Bumblefoot

Bumblefoot is rarely deadly but extremely uncomfortable to an infected chicken. Proper wound management is recommended with the aid of antibiotics like Cloxacillin. Severe bumblefoot can also be deadly if the chicken cannot stand and eat.

7. Airsacculitis

Airsacculitis–or inflammation of the air sac–can be caused by many different bacteria and will present symptoms in chickens that look something like bronchitis or pneumonia in humans. There are many other respiratory illnesses that present similar symptoms, however, airsacculitis is different and is hard to diagnose.

There is no known drug that can directly use to treat chickens infected with airsaculities. The only thing you can do is to isolate sick chickens from the rest of the flock and place them in a warm, stress-free area such as in a cat carrier or small dog kennel with a blanket over the top. Provide quality feed and a constant supply of freshwater. Administer 40mg of Vitamin E orally.

8. Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease of the intestinal tract of animals caused by coccidian protozoa. The disease spreads from one animal to another by contact with infected feces or ingestion of infected tissue. Diarrhea, which may become bloody in severe cases, is the primary symptom. Local drugs like Axylin and Tepox 48 could be given to infected chickens.

9. Pullorum Disease

Pullorum disease is an infectious poultry disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella pullorum. The disease affects mainly young chicks and poults, but can also affect older chickens, game birds, guinea fowl, ostriches, parrots, peafowl, ring doves, sparrows, and turkeys. Basic symptom includes white discharge. Local drugs like Axylin and Tepox 48 could be given to infected chickens.

10. Avian Influenza

Avian influenza is the most deadly and contagious disease that has been wreaking havoc from small to industrial-sized farms all over the world.  Avian flu can be prevented through the H5N1 vaccine but the drugs seem to have a limited supply. It is recommended that infected chickens must be put down immediately and burry far from other live birds as there is no cure yet for this deadly virus.

Although not included in the ten common diseases above, deworming your birds is extremely important to avoid further deaths caused by intestinal infections of worms. Bastonero Plus and Volatex can be used as dewormers or ask your local poultry supply for other options.

Selected references:

Disclaimer: is not an affiliate of any drug company mentioned above. Contact your veterinarian if you have doubts.

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