Respiratory diseases in chickens

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Albert Ward, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. Albert Ward

    Albert Ward Out Of The Brooder

    Hi guys,

    here is an article from the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute in South Africa that you will find helpfull and interesting. Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute is one of the leading institutes in Africa when it come to research and vaccinations for all kinds of animals.



    Respiratory diseases in chickens

    M.S.K. Mashishi

    What are respiratory diseases?

    Respiratory diseases affect the sinuses (an area in the head between the eyes and the beak) as well as the windpipe and lungs

    What are the causes?
    Germs, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi
    Housing problems such as poor ventilation resulting in ammonia build-up, draughts and excessive dust

    What are the signs in live chickens?
    Difficult breathing
    Discharges from eyes and nostrils
    Swollen sinuses

    What are the signs in dead chickens?
    The nasal passage and windpipe may be red on the inside or filled with mucous

    How do you confirm the disease?

    By a postmortem examination
    By laboratory tests
    What is the treatment?
    There are drugs available for treating respiratory diseases. Antibiotics such as tetracycline, quinilones and penicillins can be added to the feed or water. Most of these can only be bought with a prescription from a veterinarian although tetracyclines can be bought over the counter

    Prevention and control
    Practise good biosecurity (measures to prevent diseases reaching the farm and causing production drop and/or mortalities)
    Where possible vaccinate against diseases such as Newcastle disease and infectious bronchitis
    Improve housing management
    Provide good quality feed

    Respiratory diseases caused by viruses

    Newcastle disease (NCD)
    Infectious bronchitis (IB)
    Infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT)
    These are viral diseases causing respiratory signs as well as other signs such as drop in egg production in layer chickens. Chickens can become sick when they come into contact with droppings of affected chickens or by breathing in infected droplets. The pox virus is spread by mosquito bites

    Signs in live chickens

    Discharge from the nostrils, difficult breathing, extended neck when breathing, sneezing, swollen sinuses and eye infection (conjunctivitis)

    Signs in dead chickens

    Red windpipe, mucous and plugs of pus in the windpipe and sinuses


    There is no treatment for viral diseases. Antibiotics such as tetracyclines can be used to treat secondary bacterial infections which can complicate the viral disease

    Control and prevention
    Control movement of chickens in and out of the farm or yard
    Do not buy chickens from unreliable dealers. Buy day-old chicks that have been vaccinated against Newcastle disease
    Vaccinate all your chickens according to a vaccination programme
    Slaughter all chickens infected with NCD
    Cut down all the grass around the place where chickens are housed to limit mosquitoes

    Respiratory diseases caused by bacteria

    Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG)

    Mycoplasma gallisepticum contributes to the respiratory disease complex in chickens. Chicks born from infected hens are infected in the egg. Chickens can also get the disease through contact with infected chickens. MG affects all types of chickens

    Signs in live chickens

    Discharge from the eyes and nostrils

    Signs in dead chickens
    Airsacs are thickened, opaque and white with a yellowish white layer covering them
    The outer surface of the liver and heart is covered with a whitish layer


    Give antibiotics such as tylosin in the feed or water

    Buy chickens that are free of MG
    Practise strict management measures on your farm
    Infectious coryza(IC)

    This is a bacterial disease affecting layers, breeders and broilers. The chickens get sick after contact with the bacteria, for example, in drinking water or by breathing. It results in swollen sinuses and a drop in egg production

    Signs in live chickens

    Swollen face, difficult and fast breathing, discharge from the nose and eyes as well as green diarrhoea

    Signs in dead chickens

    Swollen sinuses and sometimes a watery jelly layer under the skin covering the head


    Give potentiated sulphonamides in the water or tetracyclines in the feed to treat secondary bacterial complications. Sulphonamide treatment may have to be repeated


    • There is a vaccine available. It must be given twice and should preferably contain the C3 strain

    Respiratory disease caused by fungi


    Aspergillosis is an infection caused by fungi. Chicks are infected when they breathe in spores from the incubation machines at the hatchery and to a lesser extent from the environment, contaminated feed and litter. This infection is mostly seen in chickens kept in houses

    Signs in live chickens

    Difficulty breathing, fast breathing and open-mouth breathing

    Signs in dead chickens

    White areas in the lung



    Buy chicks from reputable dealers
    Avoid wet litter, mouldy and dusty feed
    For further information consult your animal health technician, state or private veterinarian
    Animal Health for Developing Farmers
    ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute
    Private Bag X05, Onderstepoort 0110
    Tel. (012) 529 9158
    Resource Centre, Department of Agriculture
    Tel. 319 7141/7085


    Compiled by Directorate Communication, Department of Agriculture
    in cooperation with
    ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute

    Printed and published by Department of Agriculture
    and obtainable from Resource Centre, Directorate Communication
    Private Bag X144, Pretoria 0001, South Africa

    This publication is available on the web:

    provided by
    Animal Health for Developing Farmers
    ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute
    Private Bag X05, Onderstepoort 0110
    Tel. (012) 529 9158
  2. Sallyschickens

    Sallyschickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2009
    Puget Sound Baby!
    This was very helpful and interesting. Thank you!

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