Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky
Aspergillosis, also known as mycotic pneumonia and fungal pneumonia, is caused by mold (Aspergillus spp.). When the hatchery is the source of the disease, the illness is typically referred to as brooder pneumonia. All birds (domestic poultry, canaries, zoo birds, and so on), animals, humans, and plants can become ill from exposure to this mold.
Infection typically results from contaminated litter or contamination in the hatchery. Chicks can become infected during hatching if they inhale spores from a contaminated hatching machine or contaminated litter. Older birds contract infection by inhaling spore-laden dusts from contaminated litter, feed, or dusty range areas.
The clinical signs of aspergillosis are primarily respiratory, and include silent gasping or gurgling sounds. This illness leads to death.
There is no cure for infected birds. The spread of the disease can be controlled by improving ventilation, eliminating the source of the infection, and adding a fungistat to the feed.
The best way to control this illness is to prevent contamination in the first place. Set only clean eggs in the hatchery, clean and disinfect all setters and hatchers, provide birds daily with clean water, and avoid wet litter conditions. Do not use shavings that have been wet.