20 Common Chicken Diseases you Should know

20 Common Chicken Diseases you Should know

Diseases in poultry can be genetic, nutritional, or toxic. These diseases are usually caused by pathogens like virus bacteria and fungi. Diseases caused by pathogens/germs are usually very contagious. Diseases can also be internal parasites like protozoa and worms and external parasites like lice and mites. In this article, the 20 most common chicken diseases and how to prevent them will be discussed.

20 most Common Chicken Diseases you Should know and how to prevent them

1. Newcastle disease

Type: Viral
Causative agent: Virus

Signs/symptoms: Swelling around the eyes and neck, nasal discharge, greenish and watery discharge, dropping wings, reduction in egg production, paralysis, muscular tremor, dizziness, circling, shaking of the head, sudden death.

Method of transmission: Direct contact with an infected bird, contact with body fluids of infected birds

Prevention: Thorough vaccination of new birds and old flock, practice bio-security, separate infected birds from healthy ones, avoid healthy birds coming in contact with those that have not been vaccinated.

2. Avian Influenza

Type: Viral

Causative agent: Virus

Symptoms: Loss of appetite, weakness, blue/purple discoloration of combs, legs, and wattles, nasal discharge, poor egg production, swelling of comb, head, eyes, and legs, Diarrhea, conjunctivitis, sudden death.

Method of transmission: Contaminated poultry equipment, exposure of chickens to wild waterfowl, direct bird to bird contact.

Prevention: Clean poultry equipment regularly, keep your chickens housed, and prevent them from coming in contact with domestic or wildfowl, practice bio-security, disinfect farm equipment.

3. Fowl Pox Chicken Diseases

Type: Viral

Causative agent: Virus

Signs/ symptoms: Coughing, sneezing, watery eye discharge, retarded growth, scabs, difficulty in breathing.

Method of transmission: Virus ingested in birds by insects like mosquitoes, direct contact with infected birds.

Prevention: Practice effective biosecurity, vaccination, control mosquitoes in the poultry house.

4. Fowl Cholera

Type: Bacterial

Causative agent: Pasteurella multocida

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Signs/symptoms: Swollen head and wattles, low feed consumption, paralysis, reduced egg production, swollen joints, purple discoloration of combs and wattles (dark heads)

Treatment: Administer antibiotics

Prevention: Proper sanitation, vaccination, practice bio-security.

5. Sudden death syndrome (SDS) or flip over disease

Signs: Unfortunately, there are no early signs of SDS. Chickens appear healthy and carry on their normal activities. When infected, they extend their necks suddenly, gasp, move their legs and flip their wings speedily. They flip over and are found dead on their backs, sides, or breasts.

Cause: High carbohydrate intake and overweighted birds

Prevention: Slow growth rate by providing a low energy diet and practicing intermittent lighting.

6. Infectious Bronchitis

Type: Viral

Causative agent: Virus

Signs/symptoms: Reduction in feed/water intake, discharge from eyes and nostrils, difficulty in breathing, gasping, reduction in egg production, thin-shelled eggs.

Method of transmission: Airborne, contact with infected birds and rodents, cold.

Treatment: Use of antibiotics, make use of heating systems.

Prevention: Vaccination, practice bio-security.

7. Laryngotracheitis

Type: Viral

Causative agent: Virus

Signs/symptoms: Coughing, shaking of the head, sneezing, gasping, eyes/nasal discharge, swelling of wattles and face, diarrhea, prostration, slow growth.

Method of transmission: Contaminated farm equipment, airborne, bird to bird transmission

Treatment: Administer antibiotics

Prevention: Completely dispose off dead birds by burning them, vaccination, bio-security programs.

8. Colibacillosis/mushy chick disease

Type: Bacterial

Causative agent: Bacteria

Signs/symptoms: Diarrhea, respiratory problems, high mortality rate, poor performance.

Method of transmission: Fecal contamination.of feed/water/eggs

Prevention: Proper vaccination, practice bio-security.

9. Aspergillosis

Type: Fungal

Causative agent: Aspergillosis spp

Signs/symptoms: Respiratory distress, difficulty in breathing, silent gasping, gurgling, death.

Method of transmission: Contaminated litter, inhalation of spores from a contaminated hatchery.

Prevention: Practice sanitation, disinfect hatching machine, provide clean water for chicken, avoid wet litter, proper ventilation.

10. Infectious Coryza as Chicken Diseases

Type: Bacterial

Causative agent: Haemophilia paragallinanim

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Method of transmission: Direct contact with infected birds, airborne, contaminated water/feed.

Signs/symptoms: Face swelling, thick smelly discharge from eyes and nose, difficulty in breathing, rales, stunted growth, diarrhea, reduction in egg production.

Treatment: Use of antibiotics

Prevention: Bio-security program, proper sanitation, the new bird should be properly vaccinated, avoid high stocking density.

11. Blackhead

Causative agent: Histomonas Meleageidis

Signs/symptoms: Yellowish feces, dark red discoloration of the skin, sickly appearance, and weight loss.

Method of transmission: Consumption of infected worms and cecal worm eggs

Prevention: Effective bio-security program, deworming chickens regularly, remove wet litter, and manure.

12. Coccidiosis as Chicken Diseases

Causative agent: Eimeria Protozoan parasites

Signs/symptoms: Poor feed & water intake, diarrhea, dehydration, blood in feces, paleness of skin and comb, weight loss, death.

Method of transmission: Fecal-oral, eating contaminated feed, and water.

Treatment: Administer anti-coccidial drugs

Prevention: Avoid wet litter, maintain environmental hygiene, clean out manure daily, feeders, and waterers should be cleaned or changed regularly.

13. Pullorum disease

Type: Bacterial

Causative agent: Salmonella pullorum

Signs/ symptoms: Ruffled feathers, droopiness, difficulty in breathing, diarrhea, death of young chicks

Method of transmission: Direct bird to bird contact, from infected hen to chick, infected hatchery, contaminated equipment.

Treatment: Administer furazolidone, sulfa drugs, and gentamycin sulfate.

Prevention: Hatchery/ incubators should be free from contamination, separate diseased birds from healthy ones, vaccination.

14. Fowl typhoid

Type: Bacterial

Causative agent: Salmonella Gallinarum

Signs/symptoms: sudden mortality, greenish or yellowish droppings, thirst, paleness of comb and wattles, loss of appetite.

Method of transmission: Mechanical transmission, infected hen to a chick.

Treatment: This disease is related to pullorum disease so the same type of drugs can be administered.

Prevention: Practice thorough hygiene, provide clean feed and water.

15. Erysipelas

Type: Bacterial

Causative agent: Erysipelothrix insidiosa

Signs/symptoms: Loss of appetite, weakness, diarrhea, yellow/green droppings, swollen leg joints.

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Method of transmission: Contact with infected rodents, high stocking density.

Treatment: Administer bacterin vaccine and antibiotics

Prevention: Cull diseased birds, avoid overcrowding.

16. Tapeworms intestinal disease

Method of transmission: By eating insects(host) that have the eggs of tapeworms present in them

Symptoms: Slow growth, reduced performance, and efficiency.

Treatment: Administer fenbendazole or levamisole

Prevention: Try to prevent chickens from consuming infected hosts but practicing thorough sanitation, regular vaccination.

17. Lymphoid Leukosis

Type: Viral

Causative agent: Virus

Method of transmission: Fecal-oral, mechanical transmission, direct contact with infected birds.

Symptoms: Loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, death

Prevention: Keep incubator clean, disinfection, do not stress the birds, vaccination, practice bio-security.

18. Infectious Bursal Disease

Type: Viral

Causative agent: Virus

Symptoms: Loss of appetite, Ruffled feathers, difficulty in excreting, dehydration, whitish diarrhea, slight tremor, high body temperature.

Method of transmission: Direct contact with infected birds and insects, contaminated feed and litter and air, mechanical transmission,

Prevention: Vaccination, proper ventilation/ heating, proper water intake.

19. Internal parasites

Causative agent: Worms and protozoan parasites.

Symptoms/signs: Weight loss, diarrhea, paleness of comb, loss of appetite

Method of transmission: Direct contact with infected birds, Fecal-oral transmission.

Treatment: Consult your local vet to identify the type of parasite and administer treatment.

Prevention: Clean out wastes and manure in the poultry house regularly, practice a high level of hygiene.

20. Marek’s Disease

Type: Viral

Causative agent: Virus

Method of transmission: Bird to bird transmission, mechanical transmission

Signs/symptoms: Paralysis in legs, wings, and neck, weight loss, diarrhea, difficulty in breathing.

Prevention: Early vaccination, Cull diseased birds, practice bio-security.

Watch out for these signs and symptoms among your birds. if you notice, kindly follow the above instructions. If possible, consult your vet. Thank you for reading!


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