Bumblefoot - Need Advice


11 Years
Apr 27, 2008
Here's the scoop. My hen has bumblefoot. So far I have soaked foot, removed scab, removed the infectious hard, white sac (gross). This happened 5 days ago. Every day so far since I have changed the dressings, including applying iodine and triple antibiotic. We have been treating daily with terramycin(sp?) via solulable powder in their water. Yesterday I reopened the foot because there still is substantial bulge, but did not find any more infection, seemed to be more swelling of the surrounding tissue. I squeezed around the bulge to try to get any infectious sacs to move toward the new incision and could get nothing. My question, is this much swelling normal at this stage? She is acting fine, other than not wanting to walk on the foot. There is obiously some infection as her affected foot/leg is very warm as opposed to the other foot/leg. She is eating and drinking well, laying daily. Should I create incision in another area to try and look for infectious sacs? I don't want to unnecessarily dig at her foot. I feel bad enough cutting her open. Please, any advice would be great. I want to make sure I'm doing the best for her.

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Attack Chicken

[IMG]emojione/assets/png/2665.png?v=2.2.7[/IMG] Hu
11 Years
Sep 25, 2008
Indianapolis, IN
I am currently dealing with a minor case of bumblefoot(i believe) from what people have told me on here. My friend said to put a mixture of honey and vasoline on the area and it should(but haven't seen it yet) bring up the bumble or boil to the top then it will pop. Then after fill it with neosporin or something. But I'm not sure if this will work or not been treating for 3 1/2 days. nothing yet.


11 Years
Jun 17, 2008
Middle Tennessee
Bumblefoot is actually a staph infection (staphylococcus aureus, I believe), and you may need something stronger than Terramycin. Sounds like you are doing a good job of keeping things cleaned out, and the antibiotic ointment sounds like a good idea too. I agree with your own thoughts about not digging around too much. The rubber gloves are a wise choice too, as staph is easily transmissible across species.

You may wish to shoot a quick private message to speckledhen, dlhunicorn, sammi or one of our other experienced folks to get advice about the antibiotic; I cannot honestly recall if Tylan is advised in this case, and the Merck Vet Manual suggests penicillin, erythromycin, lincomycin, and spectinomycin. I do not know if you can get any such meds from your vet.

Good luck, and please keep us posted.

********Edited to add info from Merck Vet Manual *************

I thought the Merck entry was interesting ~


All avian species appear to be susceptible to staphylococcosis, which is common worldwide wherever poultry are reared. Staphylococcus aureus is usually the causative agent, but there is increasing evidence that other Staphylococcus species may also be involved. The disease condition can vary depending on where and how the bacteria enter the host; infections have been reported in the bones, joints, tendon sheaths, skin, sternal bursa, navel, yolk sac, liver, lungs, and eyelids. Septicemic infection has also been seen in laying chickens, with death occurring very quickly.
S aureus is a gram-positive coccus that appears in grape-like clusters on a stained smear. It is usually isolated on blood agar, on which it produces circular, smooth, white to orange colonies, 1-3 mm in diameter, within 24 hr. S aureus is facultatively anaerobic, â hemolytic, catalase positive, fermentative for glucose and mannitol, and coagulase positive. For many years, only coagulase-positive strains were considered to be of any clinical significance; however, in recent years, S hyicus , S epidermidis , and S gallinarum have been isolated from clinical materials.

Transmission, Epidemiology, and Pathogenesis:
S aureus and other Staphylococcus species are part of the normal flora on the skin and mucous membranes and are not thought to produce disease unless there is some breakdown in an environmental or immune system barrier. Most infections occur because of a wound, damage to the mucous membranes, or both. Infection can also occur in the hatchery as a result of contamination of an open navel. Birds that are immunosuppressed are also subject to staphylococcal infections. Staphylococcal septicemia is usually seen in laying chickens only in very hot weather. Once in the host, S aureus usually travels to the metaphyseal area of a nearby joint and causes osteomyelitis with subsequent spread to the joint. S aureus can produce disease locally at the site of entry, but the tendency to spread to the bones and joints is probably the most important feature of this disease.

Clinical Findings:
Infection most often manifests as a synovitis, with lameness being the most common clinical presentation. The bones and associated joints most frequently affected are the proximal tibiotarsus and proximal femur; the proximal tarsometatarsus, distal femur, and tibiotarsus are also involved when infection is extensive. Other common lesions include navel and yolk sac infections. Lesions that have been reported include green liver in turkeys, and liver spots and granulomas. In acute infections, mortality may be the only clinical observation.
Lesions: Lesions in the bone are focal yellow areas of necrosis, while lesions in joints consist of purulent exudate. Chicks with navel infection have navel areas that are dark and wet. Infected yolk sacs are retained longer than normal and are abnormal in color, consistency, and odor. Gangrenous dermatitis is seen in chickens that are immunosuppressed and is a combination of S aureus and Clostridium septicum . Affected areas are usually dark (hemorrhagic) and crepitant. Green liver has been a problem in turkeys and has been associated with osteomyelitis and synovitis at the processing plant. Liver spots and granulomas have been a cause of liver condemnation. In acute infections, necrosis and vascular congestion is observed in the liver, spleen, and/or kidneys.

S aureus is easily isolated from stab swabs of affected material on sheep or bovine blood agar. Most strains of S aureus are â hemolytic, while most other strains of Staphylococcus are not. Swabs can be streaked onto selective media such as mannitol-salt agar or phenylethyl alcohol agar. These media inhibit the growth of gram-negative bacteria. The coagulase test is used to establish the significance of an isolate; only coagulase-positive isolates are considered to be pathogenic. Differential diagnosis includes Escherichia coli and Pasteurella multocida .

Treatment and Prevention:
Staphylococcosis can be successfully treated with antibiotics, but a sensitivity test should be performed because antibiotic resistance is common. Antibiotics used to treat Staphylococcus infections include penicillin, erythromycin, lincomycin, and spectinomycin. Because wounds are a major cause of infection, it is important to reduce all potential sources of injury (eg, sharp objects) to the bird. Splinters in litter, sharp rocks, wire from cages, sharp edges or nails on floor slats, and fighting have been associated with the disease, as well as beak and toe trimming procedures in young chickens and turkeys. Good litter management is important in controlling foot- pad erosions to prevent infection. Hatchery sanitation is also important to reduce the numbers of bacteria, including S aureus, which is a hearty bacterium that can be difficult to kill using normal sanitation procedures. Bacterins have not been effective against S aureus , but there have been reports that competitive exclusion using a strain of S epidermidis has been effective in young, growing turkeys.

Zoonotic Risk:
S aureus can cause food poisoning. Enterotoxin-producing strains are found on poultry, and proper precautions should be taken during handling and cooking.
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