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What I have learned about Mycoplasma/CRD

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I have taken much from this site so I though I would add some.  My first 4 chickens came from a resale place that orders through ideal.  When I went to purchase, I was told I could not go back because there had been issues with people transferring disease on there shoes and clothes from flocks at home.  Made sense to me.  Brought home chicks and they had little sneezes about two weeks later ( purchased as 7 week old pullets).  These were the first ever on property and had not been allowed out on ground yet.  I waited it out as I wanted to raise organic.  Went away for most part.  Moved to coop at about week 12 and little sneezes still happening but now with the occasional, thin, clear mucus from nose and occasional snot bubble.  One in particular worsened to the point I decided to medicate.  Administered i.m. Penicillin for 3 days.  No improvement, possibly got worse.  Called around and read on this forum.  Purchase Tylan soluble for about $50 bucks.  Cleared it up pretty well.  Months later, lost some to ant bait and was given 4 laying hens from a friend.  Never sneezed before, layed everyday.  About 2 weeks after being here, sneezing and way decreased laying.  I now have 30, day old chicks on the way and have spent DAYS researching what to do to prevent a huge loss ( dont wont to pump broilers full of meds).  Have them all on Tylan again and are improving.  Called the place I originally purchased from and they confirmed they have had issues with this and that every hatchery in America has this.  I was doubtful so called Ideal, manager said " we are not considered Mycoplasma negative but have never had a problem".  OK.  Call Murray McMurray... we don't test for that.  Called Meyer and waited for 10 mins before hanging up.  So.  My plan is to order the $98 vaccine and give to all new arriving as well as me hens once they are asymptomatic.  According to label it doesn't prevent disease but symptoms of.. fine with me.  The 30 coming will have it regardless as it is passed through egg but now wont exhibit symptoms.. I will take what I can get.  Also plan to not purchase outside if I can avoid it and hopefully, eventually, develop a negative/resistant flock.  I have read much about culling all birds.  If you live in Tx, odds are your bird came from Ideal or the breeder you bought from has gotten birds from Ideal.  I still think they are a fine company as apparently either people test and are "not negative" or don't so they can honestly say "don't know".  I am not condoning that we should be indifferent to this problem, but as it stands, there seems to be no avoiding it.  My personal belief is that it is due to the majority of poultry being raised in sterile environments and shipped all over to climates and soils that contain things that the chick has no inherited immunity to.  I think buying originals from a hatchery is ok, but have Tylan, buy the mg bac vaccine, and try to breed from then on, in theory, every year the chicks will be a bit more resistant and suited for your environment.  I would say not to cull your flocks as the odds are pretty certain that you will get it again and then just be out those birds for nothing.  As far as giving, trading, selling birds... I had decided that I would never, so as not to pass this on to someone.. now, if ideal has it, and M.M. probably does as well, is it unethical to gift/sell chicks to someone who purchased there current chicks from there as well??  I don't know.  Either way, I am resigned to this and calmer now.  I have a plan and knowledge.  I hope this takes the panic out of others as well.  P.s.... mine never acted really sick, had smelly discharge, foamy eyes, thick or colored discharge etc.  This threw me off in my journey to diagnosis and probably has others.  Just a small sneeze with clear spray.  I am going to experiment with cheaper meds if I have another symptom outbreak, but hope not too.  Will report in a year if the vaccine prevented symptoms in an already infected flock and if it prevented symptoms in the day old chicks.  Best of luck everyone and may this help someone not spend weeks of sleeplessness.

Last thing, mycoplasma, mg, crd... all close enough for government work.. yes some differences.. but for our needs they are caused by same things, have same effects, treated with same drugs, etc.

post #2 of 9

Thank you for your interesting post.  Vaccinating your flock and future chickens would be a good idea, except I would want to confirm that I indeed had mycoplama (CRD) in the flock.  Infectious bronchitis (IB) has similar symptoms to what you have experienced.  I would want a necropsy done by my state poultry vet so that I got the correct vaccine.  Click on this link for your state vet info:

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the state vet info!!  I called them, got transferred to the local office, then the head vet at the State Veterinary poultry diagnostic clinic.  Got some good, for sure information from an authority.  He asked me some questions such as symptoms, if it improved with Tylan, background etc and confirmed it is a pretty clear clinical diagnosis, of course testing to be sure, but he felt I would most likely get a result positive for mycoplasma.  He said that he has had three calls today and that the disease is not regulated by most states unless there is a large commercial turkey business as it is more fatal in turkeys.  He said the only for sure thing to do would be cull my flock, but that alot, if not most, backyard flocks carry it so I run the risk of getting it again.  I also asked if the wild birds who are around my flock while free ranging could now carry it and reinfect my new flock and he said yes.  So no easy answers.  As far as Ideal goes, some chicks could have it but catching it through a symptomatic bird usually causes the sneezing and stuff where as hatching with it may not unless the bird becomes stressed, or could happen anyway.  So... I think I will not cull and just continue to treat.  I guess I have just accepted it.  If I knew culling and bio-security would work I would do it but I don't.  So my original plan stays and all I can hope for is that states become more strict and start regulating hatcheries for this disease.  If you are EVER bringing home a baby and it sneezes, cull it before getting attached and spreading its germs.  I would probably have an asymptomatic flock had I either culled those first pullets or never bought from that second hand seller. He also said that the organism usually cant live without a host for more than a week but the longer the better because it could possible be in a drop of mucus or something and live longer.  Hope this helps people.  No more speculation!!

post #5 of 9

There have been studies done in other countries such as Pakistan, Argentina, India, and others showing as high as 78% of local backyard flocks being positive for mycoplasma (CRD.)  An avian vet on a thread I read regularly,who has had experience in this country treating an outbreak of avian influenza (AI)said recently that it is thought that mycoplasma  is present in as much as 95% of backyard flocks.  I think that might be a bit high, but apparently it is the backyard enthusiast who gets birds from swap meets and unscrupulous sellers that causes many outbreaks.  MG can stay on hair, clothing, and on rubber material for 2-3 days.   It is also thought that many times it has been brought into a flock by the poultry testers who have been to positive farms.  Just walking into your local feedstore, you can bring it home on your shoes. Sorry for the iltalics, but I hit the wrong button.

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

It is pretty crazy.  I wish I could be one of those who have never had a problem despite getting chickens from all over.  I got m.g. with my first four though.  I guess I just move on. It has taken a large part of the fun and excitement out for me.  I have to chunk the eggs right now because of the Tylan. Oh well... I have a plan.  Maybe one day if everyone gets old around the same time I will cull and try to start over.  Seems like a waste at this point.  If I ever do though... I will buy from that hatchery listed above that is certified to not have it. 

post #7 of 9

I'd like to add a footnote to this discussion,  mycoplasma gallisepticum is present in a large number of wild birds as well.  It's an easy answer to blame the backyard flock owner and swap meet trader, but the disease is a common multi species bird cold worldwide. The only way to guarantee your flock remains mycoplasma free is to raise them completely indoors away from wild birds, shower and change clothing and shoes before you tend to them, and observe a 2 day window between visiting other poultry and visiting yours.  (According to a veterinary website on maintaining a mycoplasma negative breeder flock).

Some years ago there was a major outbreak among house finches on the east coast, probably worse because a)  the house finches, an escape from the pet trade, had weaker immune systems because of inbreeding  or  b) the house finches, being originally a California species,  were less adapted to the mycoplasmas from the other side of the country.  Which brings me to another point, there are many strains of the bacteria;  not all equally bad;  the immune system of your birds is also a big factor in how well they deal with mycoplasmas. The same site said that mycoplasmas usually only pose a problem with lethal consequences when the bird is weakened from another infection:  coryza,  E Coli / colibacillosis, Newcastle, various other colds and sneezes.

Mycoplasmas are a class of bacteria which are stopped in their tracks by medicines in the lincomycin family (lincomycin, clindamycin), and by tylosin (Tylan),  slowed down by tetracyclines, and even killed or reduced in number by the combination med lincomycin plus spectinomycin (LincSpex, LS50.) Yes, mycoplasmas are so taken for granted by the industry that a special med has been formulated to deal with them.

Mycoplasmas are totally unaffected by meds in the penicillin family (eg. amoxicillin). Penicillins attack the bacterial cell wall, and mycoplasmas are an unusual type of slow growing, tiny bacteria that do not have a proper cell wall.

Once the bacteria's growth has halted,  it's up to your chicken's immune system to eliminate them. Length of dosage is the biggest factor in recovery.  You have to keep the mycoplasma helpless while your bird gets healthy and its immune system comes back.

Other respiratory diseases which are similar (and which your bird may have at the same time!) are

* Colibacillosis - a cold caused by E Coli from the environment.  Coughing or sneezing, snick, poor appetite, dejection. Responds to amoxycillin, tetracylines, fluoroquinolones ( cipro, enrofloxacin). Very common, often follows after another cold or with mycoplasma.

* Infectious Coryza - a bad cold caused by the bacteria Haemophilus paragallinarum. Facial swelling and noticably SMELLY goo coming from the eyes and nose as well as sniffles, sneezing, loss of appetite. It responds to tylosin (Tylan), erythromycin, sulfa drugs (eg.  sulfadimethoxane), and penicillins. This is a short lived bacteria which is specific to poultry and is likely to be transmitted directly from / to poultry in a show or swap meet environment,  rather than picked up from wild birds. Incubation period 1-3 days, disease may last 2-3 weeks or drag on longer, infected birds may remain carriers.

* Fowl cholera - a serious, lethal disease caused by the bacteria Pasteurella multocida. Not common. 5-8 day incubation period.  Diarrhea, coughing, runny eyes and nose, swollen joints or lameness, swollen or blue tinted face and wattles, depression, loss of appetite, sudden death.  Responds to pretty much everything:  sulfa drugs, tetracyclines, erythromycin and Tylan, penicillins. May be transmitted by rats.

* Mycoplasma synoviae - another mycoplasma. Treatment is the same as mycoplasma gallisepticum. Recovery is slow. It can cause lameness, lethargy, stilted gait, swollen joints as well as sniffling and snicking.

Then, there are the viruses. None of these are helped by antibiotics, but antibiotics can help keep secondary infections (mycoplasma, E Coli, etc) from making things worse.

* Infectious Bronchitis, IB, the chicken's common cold, causes raspy breathing, watery eyes and nose, huddling, depression, diarrhea. Poor egg shell quality in layers. Short incubation period, as little as 1 - 2 days. Highly contagious. Birds usually recover in a few weeks.

* Avian Influenza causes coughing, sneezing, noisy breathing, diarrhea, swollen or bluish discolored face / wattles.

* Laryngotracheitis (ILT or "trach", pronounced trake).  Gasping, difficulty breathing, coughing of mucus and blood, nasal discharge. Sometimes cheesy blockage in breathing passage. Death may occur from asphyxiation. 5-12 day incubation period.  Disease usually lasts about 2 weeks; surviving birds remain carriers.

* Newcastle disease causes coughing, diarrhea, "sudden death", paralysis, twisted neck, nerve problems  depending on the strain of the virus. Less dangerous strains of the virus may simply cause congestion. Varies widely. 2-12 day incubation period after exposure by breathing contaminated air.


Best of luck all - exop

Edited by exop - 10/30/13 at 10:37am
post #8 of 9
Any updates, OP?
post #9 of 9
Yes I'm curious too, wanting to get new chicks and planning on vaccinating before introducing them to my birds. Anyone know how long it takes before the vaccine is effective?
One super fantastic coop-building husband, thousands of honeybees, 1 BA, 1 BO, 2 EE, 1 blue cochin, 1 Welsummer and 1 banty light brahma named Camilla
One super fantastic coop-building husband, thousands of honeybees, 1 BA, 1 BO, 2 EE, 1 blue cochin, 1 Welsummer and 1 banty light brahma named Camilla
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