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Common chicken diseases and how to treat them

Chicken diseases can range from a temporary disorder that can temporarily affect egg-laying, to fatal infections that can cause the death of our birds. That is why at gallinaponedora.com we have compiled information on ten of the most common chicken diseases so that you can diagnose your birds and discover what treatment you can follow!

1. Bumblefoot: Foot disease

Bumblefoot (also known as pododermatitis) (tibak sa paa ng manok – Tagalog) is a staph infection that develops on the soles of chicken feet. This infection is usually caused by a small cut or splinter that goes unnoticed. The infection begins under the skin and causes a cyst-like structure.

This is one of the most common chicken diseases, especially in older chickens. It can be easily treated. But if the Bumblefoot is overlooked or ignored, it can cause lasting damage and even death.

How to recognize the Bumblefoot?

The symptoms of this foot disease in chickens are the same as for any foot injury:

  • Limp or prefer to walk on one leg
  • Prefers to be in one place
  • Doesn’t use a leg at all
  • You may have a rash or a swollen toe
  • Black or brown crust, swelling, and/or pus-filled abscesses.

If one of your birds shows symptoms of a foot injury, you will need to examine the foot for signs of this disease. It is important to examine and treat any chicken foot injuries, as injuries that become infected or do not heal properly are the most common cause of Bumblefoot.

How to treat this disease?

You should start by washing your foot and removing all dirt before starting the treatment. In my case, I use warm chamomile water to leave them clean. After this, you will need a bowl or container large enough to cover the chicken feet with water. Fill the container with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) and warm water and place the chicken feet in the water for about ten minutes.

The skin should be smooth and, if you’re lucky, the scabs and bumps will start to fall off. Wear protective gloves as staph infection can also infect humans, and use a pair of tweezers to try to remove the black scab. If you can’t pull the scab off, don’t force it. Just put the chicken back in the foot bath for ten more minutes. Most will come out after two or three soaks. Then you need to add a wound spray on your feet and place a gauze on it. In this way I am treating my chickens, do not let this disease progress because it can be fatal.

2. Coccidiosis: Avian intestinal disease

Coccidiosis is an avian intestinal disease that is most prevalent in young chickens. This is due to a small parasite (or protozoa) attaching itself to the intestinal lining of the bird. When protozoa connect, they damage tissue and cause it to bleed. This disease prevents the chicken from absorbing nutrients normally and also creates a friendly environment for bacteria.

This disease can occur in chickens of all ages. However, special care must be taken in chickens less than 6 months old, they need nutrients to grow healthy and strong. Also, keep in mind that young chickens do not have a fully developed immune system to fight the parasite. That is why young chickens are more vulnerable to these parasites. Symptoms of coccidiosis include:

  • Lethargy and weakness.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Decreased appetite and not drinking water.
  • Pale skin and combs.
  • Ruffled feathers.
  • Weight loss (in older chickens).

If you notice these symptoms and your chicks have not been vaccinated, you should start with medicated feed. Your trusted veterinarian will most likely prescribe an anticoccidial agent such as amprolium or toltrazuril.

Coccidiosis is one of those chicken diseases in which cleanliness is essential because it is transmitted through chicken feces. Of course, ventilation and adequate space are also equally important.

When bringing new chicks into your coop, make sure the areas in which they will live areas free of feces as possible. Chicks gradually develop their own immunity to coccidiosis and by around eight weeks they should have fairly strong immunity.

3. Mycoplasma: eye with bubbles

Mycoplasma is one of the chicken diseases caused by bacteria that mainly affect the respiratory system of birds. Mycoplasma infection is also known as chronic respiratory disease (CKD). Common symptoms include respiratory symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, frothy eye discharge, bubbles in the eye, and inflammation of the sinuses.

Mycoplasma is one of the chicken diseases caused by bacteria that mainly affect the respiratory system of birds. Mycoplasma infection is also known as chronic respiratory disease (CKD). Common symptoms include respiratory symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, frothy eye discharge, bubbles in the eye, and inflammation of the sinuses.

Mycoplasma can be spread from bird to bird and even transferred through fecal material carried on boots/gloves or tools. This bacteria can also be transmitted through the egg, so you should prevent hens with this disease from hatching their eggs. Once a veterinarian has diagnosed Mycoplasma, symptoms can be controlled with antibiotics, but there is no cure and chickens remain carriers for life.

Unfortunately, one of the consequences of this bacterium is that at a certain time it could affect the egg production of your hens.

4. Chickenpox

Fowlpox is a slow-spreading viral condition due to its long incubation period. There are two types of fowl pox. The first is the cutaneous form also called dry fowl pox that is so often noticed by breeders, as it produces lesions on the comb and whiskers and the diphtheria form also called wet, produces lesions in the mouth and respiratory tract and is seen less frequently by poultry farmers.

The virus is resistant and can persist for months in the environment under ideal conditions. Signs of fowlpox in chickens include:

  • Decreased activity of chickens
  • Loss of appetite
  • The lesions look like black scabs that spread later, white pustules or sores may appear in the non-feathered areas.
  • Respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath.
  • Red and inflamed mucous membranes and/or eyes.
  • Depression or stop in egg production.
  • Flat yellow lesions in the mouth.

Dry fowl pox

Dry fowl pox usually affects the hen’s face, chins, comb, and possibly the feet, occasionally the neck, or anywhere there are no feathers. Lesions or smallpox start with black spots appearing on the non-feathered areas, these will slowly turn into yellowish blisters/bumps and then crust over and eventually fall off.

Wet fowl pox

As mentioned above, wet fowl pox is one of the most worrying chicken diseases, because lesions can form inside the mouth and possibly go down the larynx to the trachea and digestive tract. These lesions look like plaques or canker sores in the mouth.

How to treat fowlpox?

Scabs caused by dried fowl pox can be treated with a dilute iodine solution and an antibiotic ointment. However, wet pox should be examined by a veterinarian due to the risk of respiratory problems. An antibiotic may be prescribed to prevent secondary infections from occurring.

It is clear to say that prevention is essential to prevent any type of chicken disease, that is why it is important that you know that fowl pox is transmitted by the bite of insects, particularly mosquitoes, so try to eradicate the mosquitoes and flies that roam in his chicken coop. Cleaning is essential to prevent further infections.

5. Infectious bronchitis

This is one of the most common chicken diseases. Infectious bronchitis, also known simply as a cold, is a highly contagious virus and can spread quickly through a flock. The virus is transmitted through the air, bird feces, food bags, infected dead birds, and rodents. The virus can also be transmitted through the egg to developing embryos, but an embryo affected with the virus usually does not hatch.

The severity of the infection depends on the age, environmental conditions, and immune status of the birds. The following list describes some of the most common symptoms of this disease:

  • Decrease in food and water consumption
  • Watery discharge from the eyes and nostrils.
  • Young chickens have difficulty breathing and may pant. Breath sounds are most noticeable at night while chickens are resting.
  • Egg production decreases.

How to treat infectious bronchitis?

There is no specific treatment for this virus. Taking antibiotics for three to five days can help fight any secondary bacterial infection.

6. Marek’s disease

Marek’s disease, also known as bird paralysis, is caused by a virus that most often affects chickens between 12 and 25 weeks old. This disease can be transmitted by shedding from infected chickens.

This is one of the most terrible diseases of chickens, it is even considered a type of avian cancer. Nerve tumors will cause lameness and paralysis in birds. Tumors can appear in the eyes and cause blindness. Tumors of the liver, kidney, spleen, gonads, pancreas, proventriculus, lungs, muscles, and skin cause incoordination of movements, underdevelopment, paleness, shortness of breath, and enlarged feather follicles.

In the later stages of infection, birds become emaciated with pale, scaly combs and greenish diarrhea. More symptoms of Marek’s disease include:

  • Inability to lift wings
  • Partial paralysis
  • Blindness
  • Ataxia (lack of muscle control)
  • Slimming

There are currently no treatments for Marek’s disease. However, there is a vaccine available and the chicks should be inoculated as soon as they hatch.

7. Cloacitis

Cloacitis is the name given to a cloacal fungal infection caused by the fungus Candida albicans; which presents in a similar way to candidiasis. This infection causes a yellow or whitish pasty discharge in birds. If left untreated, this infection can spread to other chickens and cause other serious health problems.

Of all the chicken diseases, cholangitis is one of the easiest to diagnose, but catching it early is important to curing it and preventing it from spreading.

By contracting this fungus the chickens will eat, drink and act normally. The main symptoms that your chicken has this infection are:

  1. Yellowish or whitish stool
  2. Crusting of the tail feathers
  3. A foul smell, often enough for other chickens to stay away from them.
    Diarrhea

How to treat cloacitis?

This is one of the diseases of chickens that you can treat if you detect it at an early age. For most cases of cloacitis, you can treat it using warm water, Epsom salts, and a little antifungal cream. Here is a step-by-step show on how to treat a chicken with this infection.

  • Step 1 Fill a large enough container with warm water and add two tablespoons of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate).
  • Step 2 Place the hen in the warm water so that its bottom and the infected area are completely covered with the water. Let her soak for 10 minutes, most of the pus/infection should come out of her feathers.
  • Step 3 After keeping your chicken in the warm water. Remove it and pat it dry with a towel.
  • Step 4 Apply an antifungal cream around your chicken’s vent area, making sure a little goes into the entrance. Antifungal cream is used to treat yeast infections, among other things.
  • Step 5 Repeat this every 48 hours until the infection clears. If it appears that the treatment is not working, speak with an avian veterinarian.
  • Step 6 Add some apple cider vinegar to your chicken’s drinking water and provide probiotics to help it make a full recovery.

8. Ingluvitis: Crop disease

The crop is the chicken’s expandable storage bag where the food is stored before processing. There can be several causes of crop disease. It can occur when birds eat spoiled food or drink dirty, slimy water.

It is also seen in young birds that are raised in hot conditions and drink excessive amounts of water. Lastly, Ingluvitis can occur when birds are treated for a long time with antibiotics and/or have other underlying chicken diseases. Symptoms of this disease include:

  • Inspect your crop in the morning. If it’s flat, you don’t have a problem, but if it’s full or partially full, there’s a problem.
  • Hold his chest against your ear. Can you hear noises? If so, you have a problem.
  • Lastly, smell your breath. If it smells sour, then you can start treating it.

How to treat this disease?

The first twelve hours are essential and you should not feed or drink anything. If possible you can massage them every 2 hours in the crop. After twelve hours you can only drink clean water. Make sure to continue with the massage.

The next day, if the crop is flat, you can give two or three small servings during the day and water. Stay on this diet for two to three days until you are sure the problem is resolved. Other treatment to treat the infection is adding iodine or acidified copper sulfate to drinking water according to label directions for 3 to 5 days.

9. Newcastle disease

Newcastle disease is a highly contagious viral infection caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system of birds. Depending on the strain, the disease can have a 100% death rate with few or no symptoms.

This is one of the worst diseases of chickens and presents as an acute respiratory disease. It also compromises the digestive system and the respiratory system. This disease can spread short distances through the air but is more likely to be transmitted through other infected birds. The most common symptoms are:

  • Respiratory symptoms: coughing and sneezing, shortness of breath. Increased respiration
  • Diarrhea, yellowish-green in color
  • Nervous features, tremors, and even a twisting of the neck.
  • Depression
  • Few eggs produced
  • Softshell eggs
  • Symptoms can intensify quickly

How to treat this disease?

There is no treatment, however, there are vaccines available. If you suspect a possible outbreak of infection of any kind, contact your veterinarian and isolate the compromised birds.

10. Infectious coryza

Infectious coryza is an acute respiratory disease that causes reduced egg production in chickens. In younger chickens, it can affect growth. It is one of the fastest-spreading chicken diseases in countries with tropical or subtropical climates.

The causative agent is a bacterium, called Avibacterium paragallinarum. This bacteria causes inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. The most common symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Facial swelling
  • Crying eyes
  • Closed eyes
  • Puffy beards
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Strong smell
  • Decrease in food and water consumption.
  • Weight loss or reduced growth rate
  • Severe reduction in egg production (10-40%)

How to treat this disease?

Antibiotic treatment will reduce the severity of the disease course. This helps to reduce losses due to low egg production. Keep in mind that antibiotics do not kill bacteria, birds that contract this disease will continue to carry the bacteria for life. Also, note that some antibiotics are not suitable for layers that produce eggs for human consumption.

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