Bluecomb is a disease that can occur in chickens, turkeys, and quail. It is also known as pullet disease, avian monocytosis, new wheat disease, X-disease, summer disease, and mud fever. It occurs most commonly in hot summer months, usually between June and November, and affects young birds under 2 years of age.
Avian vets have worked for years to determine the cause of bluecomb. The disease resembles an infection in the way it travels through a flock of birds. In most cases it is a disturbance of the metabolic system, although a virus is a suspected cause.
D. E. Stover, of the California Department of Agriculture, Sacramento, CA found the virus of Newcastle disease in outbreaks of bluecomb, so several people associate bluecomb with the virus of Newcastle. This is a faulty theory, since there are several possible causes of bluecomb. Birds in early stages of the Luekosis disease often develop a bluecomb, several other things including staphylococcal and streptococcal infections and infections of the intestinal tract, can cause a blue comb. There is also a possibility that Bluecomb is caused by a mineral imbalance.
Although there are precautions that you can take against bluecomb, you can not prevent it completely. Because it has been discovered that bluecomb is usually due to poor breeding, hatchery birds are more susceptible to bluecomb than farm birds.
The symptoms of bluecomb will change depending on the severity of the bird’s illness. Possible symptoms could include depression, loss of appetite, blue/black comb and wattles, sour crop, and drop in egg production. A large majority of birds recover from this ailment if treated properly, however up to 80% of a flock can be killed if neglected. You can never tell if your bird’s case is fatal or not until the very end, so it is always best to treat your bird as soon as possible to prevent death.
After an outbreak of Bluecomb, it is vital to make sure that your birds have ample supply of clean, cold water, and grain. Molasses can be helpful, as well as some form of potassium. Antibiotics, such as Aureomycin, Terramycin, Streptomycin, Duramycin, and penicillin, are highly advised for the well being of your flock.
Bluecomb can be fatal, but it does not have to be. If you just treat your birds properly and administer the proper antibiotics, bluecomb does not need to be any more dangerous than a head cold.