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Poultry Diseases: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Poultry diseases are ailments that affect birds that are usually raised for human consumption e.g. chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pheasants and quail. The diseases may be bacterial, viral, due to a deficiency, parasitic and neoplastic. Although, there are a number of common poultry diseases amongst these birds, let’s take a look at particular diseases that affect different poultry.

Coccidiosis – This is one of the many universally-recognized poultry diseases in chickens and it comes about as a result of Eimirea. The infection takes place in the intestines after ingesting oocytes that are sporulated. This occurs due to poor living conditions such as spaces with excessive moisture, high temperature and unsanitary surroundings. When chickens are infected with poultry diseases such as coccidiosis, the result is bloody diarrhea, intestinal hemorrhaging and premature death of cells, tissue and organs. To detect this disease in chickens, take note of morbidity and the mortality rate of chickens as well as bloody/watery droppings in the coop. To treat this disease, vaccinations are required and this can be done by spraying the food with the vaccine, administering it as eye drops or distributing it in the water. If the infection returns due to moist litter, vitamins and minerals should be dispensed in the water.

Avian Influenza – This is one of the most well-known poultry diseases among birds, also commonly known as bird flu. It is caused by a virus, orthomyxovirus, and it’s contracted by inhaling infected feces. It is one of the most contagious poultry diseases and is readily transmitted by waterfowl. Birds affected by this disease will show signs of sneezing, coughing, loss of appetite, diarrhea, depression, respiratory pain and emaciation. When it occurs in chickens, there is usually a drop in egg production and the quality of the shells is deficient. Antibiotics are available to treat the disease, although prevention is the best way to go because it is communicable to humans.

Ornithabacter (ORT) – This is a disease caused by bacteria and is prevalent in both turkeys and chickens. Though many poultry diseases occur in most pullets, some are more common in certain birds than others. This contagious disease affects the respiratory system with symptoms such as nasal congestion and coughing being signs of its onset. In some cases, poultry farmers may notice swelling on the head of the birds as well as noticing that the birds experience respiratory discomfort. One way to treat this disease is through vaccination and this can be administered to fowl at a very early age to create resistance to the disease.

Colibacillosis – Also known as E-Coli or Cellulities, this is also a very common poultry disease. A bacterial infectious disease, it is transmitted via water, food, ovarian transmissions and through fecal matter. If younger birds or the embryos are infected, high mortality rates will be noted, whereas with older birds a decrease in general activity may be observed. To prevent this poultry disease, water can be chlorinated while improved sanitation can prevent transmission. Moreover, vaccinations are available that will help protect embryos. Diseases such as E-coli can be treated using antibiotics such as Oxytetracycline (OTC), Quinolones (Flumequine) and Chlortetracycline (CTC).

As already mentioned, some diseases are common and display similar symptoms across bird species. But there are ways to prevent or curb these diseases before they can cause a pandemic. Not too long ago, bird flu posed a threat to humans. But through measures that in some cases included the quarantine of particular infected bird species, the disease was brought under control. As a poultry farmer, it is your obligation to know of the above diseases so that you may take the necessary steps when signs and symptoms occur.

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