Common Chicken Ailments Continued (D-N)

Here is the continuation of the common chicken ailments. Here are the diseases that are D-N in alphabetical order.

Common Ailments A-C Common Ailments O-Z

Infectious Anemia

Incidence: common chicken ailment in major chicken producing countries, especially in commercial broiler flocks raised on reused litter.

System/Organ affected: blood

Symptoms: in growing birds sudden deaths of apparently healthy birds, or huddling, ruffled feathers, drawn-in head, pale comb, wattles, and skin.

Cause: unknown, possibly an adenovirus. May be related vitamin K deficiency.

Transmission: ingesting bacteria from droppings of infected birds, spreads from breeders to chicks through hatching eggs, or contaminated litter or equipment.

Prevention: Good sanitation. Healthy birds in clean surroundings will develop a natural immunity.

Treatment: none other than supportive therapy, which can include supplements vitamins B and K.

Infectious Bronchitis

Incidence: common chicken ailment worldwide

System/Organ affected: respiratory

Symptoms: in birds of all ages: gasping, coughing, sneezing, wet eyes, nasal discharge.

Cause: several strains of corona virus that survive no more than one week off chickens and are easily destroyed by disinfectants. Will only infect chickens.

Transmission: the most contagious poultry disease; spreads by contact with infected birds or their respiratory discharges. It can travel up to 1,000 yards in the air.

Prevention: Good management. Avoid mixing birds from different sources. Vaccinate with strains of virus found locally.

Treatment: electrolytes in drinking water. Keep birds warm and well fed and avoid overcrowding. Survivors or permanently immune, but become carriers.

Infectious Bursal Disease

Incidence: common ailment worldwide, primarily in large flocks.

System/organ affected: lymph tissue, especially cloacal bursa.

Symptoms in young birds: droopiness, ruffled feathers, vent picking, diarrhea. Cause: birna virus that affects primarily chickens and is common in every major poultry producing area. It can survive in feed, water, droppings for weeks and in housing for at least four months after the removal of infected birds.

Transmission: highly contagious: spread from infected birds through their droppings, in contaminated litter and dust in the air, equipment, shoes, etc.

Prevention: good sanitation helps, but a virus is difficult to eradicate. Vaccinate only where the disease is prevalent.

Treatment: none; keep birds warm and well ventilated and provide plenty of water. recovering chicks are more susceptible to other diseases.

If you have questions that you would like to ask a vet, use the service below. Ask a Vet has qualified doctors that can answer questions about chicken health.

Infectious Coryza

Incidence: common chicken ailment worldwide, especially in fall and winter in tropical and temperate environments.

System/organ affected: respiratory Symptoms: in chicks: nasal discharge, facial swelling, one or both eyes closed, death. In growing birds: watery eyes, eyelids stuck together, reddish bad smelling discharge from nose, drop in feed consumption.

Cause: bacteria: it does not survive long in environment and is easily destroyed with disinfectants.

Transmission: contagious; contact with infected birds and their nasal discharge.

Prevention: avoid mixing birds from different flocks. Remove the infected birds and disinfect and leave the housing vacant for at least three weeks. Vaccinate only if the disease is positively identified.

Treatment: different drugs. Culling is preferred since survivors may be carriers.

Infectious Laryngotracheitis

Incidence: common chicken ailment worldwide

System/organ affected: upper respiratory tract

Symptoms: (mild infection) watery inflamed eyes, swollen sinuses, nasal discharge, drop in egg production. (acute infection) nasal discharge, coughing, shaking, breathing through mouth, gasping.

Cause: a herpes virus that affects primarily chickens and pheasants and cannot live off the bird.

Transmission: highly contagious: inhaled virus from infected bird or contaminated litter, rodents, shoes, etc.

Prevention: flock isolation and scrupulous sanitation.

Treatment: none; cull.

Infectious Stunting Syndrome

Incidence: becoming a more common ailment in the U.S.

System/organ affected: digestive

Symptoms: in young birds: low growth rate, pale skin, slow feather development, diarrhea, undigested food in droppings.

Cause: unknown; may occur in combination with virus and bacteria present.

Transmission: unknown; possibly airborne virus.

Prevention: unknown; avoid crowding and practice good sanitation.

Treatment: unknown; following an outbreak clean and disinfect very thoroughly with iodine solution.

Influenza (bird flu)

Incidence: common ailment worldwide, but serious outbreaks are rare.

System/organ affected: primarily respiratory, sometimes involves digestive and nervous system as well.

Symptoms: sudden death without signs, or droopiness, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, huddling, ruffled feathers, green diarrhea, etc.

Cause: several strains of type A influenza virus; some are mild while others are lethal. It does not survive long in the environment.

Transmission: highly contagious: contact with infected birds and their body discharges, especially droppings, rodents, feet, shoes, etc.

Prevention: during a local outbreak do not visit flocks or let people visit your flock. Keep birds inside and away from wild birds and common water. You can contact your vet to see if a vaccine is available for the local type of virus.

Treatment: mild form: antibiotic to prevent secondary bacterial infection. Survivors are immune for several months, but are carriers.

Severe form: must be reported to your federal health administration because it runs the risk of causing infection in humans.

Kinky Back

Incidence: common chicken ailment in broiler flocks

System/organ affected: joints or vertebrae

Symptoms: in young broilers: arched back, extended neck, feet off ground, struggling backward on hocks to move around.

Cause: unknown, possibly hereditary.

Transmission: genetic or feed related. Does not spread bird to bird.

Prevention: breed for resistance, do not feed for rapid growth.

Treatment: none; cull


Incidence: only in areas where biting midges and black flies are present, especially during summer and fall. In North America it occurs in southeastern states, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

System/organ affected: blood

Symptoms: in young birds: droopiness, weakness, lameness, fever, loss of appetite, increased thirst.

Cause: protozoan parasites that infect many other kinds of birds more often than chickens.

Transmission: spread by biting midges from infected or carrier birds, does not spread through direct contact.

Prevention: control black files and midges.

Treatment: ineffective, recovered birds are carriers and will never lay well.

Lymphoid Leukosis

Incidence: common chicken ailment worldwide

System/organ affected: entire body

Symptoms: in young birds: sudden death without symptoms, pale shriveled comb, loss of appetite, diarrhea, emaciation, weakness, etc. In hens: reduced egg production, enlarged abdomen, loose droppings.

Cause: a group of retroviruses that primarily infect chickens and do not live long off of the bird's body.

Transmission: contact with infected birds through droppings or by blood sucking parasites. Hen to chick.

Prevention: control by buying and breeding resistant birds.

Treatment: none; cull


Incidence: common chicken ailment worldwide in temperate climates.

System/organ affected: blood

Symptoms: none to death

Cause: protozoan parasites

Transmission: mosquito bites

Prevention: control mosquitoes; isolate chickens in mosquito proof housing.

Treatment: none

Marek's Disease

Incidence: very common chicken ailment worldwide; occurs more in large breeds than in bantams.

System/organ affected: organs, nerves, or skin.

Symptoms: in chicks: growing thin while eating well. In young birds: enlarged feather follicles or white bumps on skin that scab over with a brown crust, lack of coordination, pale skin, wing or leg paralysis.

Cause: six different herpes viruses concentrated in feather follicles, shed in dander, survive for years in dust and litter, inhaled contaminated dust, hatching eggs.

Prevention: breed for resistance, practice good sanitation and provide good ventilation, keep turkey with your chickens because turkeys carry a related but harmless virus that prevents Marek's from forming and causing tumors.

Treatment: none, cull.

Newcastle Disease

Incidence: common chicken ailment worldwide

System/organ affected: respiratory and nervous systems

Symptoms: in growing birds: wheezing, gasping, coughing, chirping, sometimes followed by nervous disorders and death due to being trampled by other birds.

Cause: paramyxovirus that affects many different birds.

Transmission: contagious; spread by inhaling or ingesting the virus from body excretions of infected birds.

Prevention: breed for genetic resistance.

Treatment: keep birds warm and well fed; watch for secondary bacterial infections. Survivors are immune, but will be carriers for about a month.

To Common Ailments A-C To Common Ailments O-Z
Return from Common Chicken Ailments to Chicken Diseases

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