Poultry Diseases of the Respiratory System

Small and Backyard Flocks June 13, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Diseases of the Respiratory System

There are many common diseases that can affect a bird's respiratory system—the system that includes the trachea, lungs, and air sacs. Respiratory disease can result from viral, bacterial, fungal, and mycoplasmal infections. Note that some diseases that affect the respiratory system can also affect the nervous system.

Viral Infections

Antibiotics do not work against viruses. It is important, therefore, to keep viruses off the farm through effective management and biosecurity and the use of vaccination when necessary.

Avian Influenza

Clinical signs of avian influenza include the following:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Rales
  • Swelling of the face and/or wattles
  • Bluish-purple discoloration of the face
  • General diarrhea
  • Red or white spots on the legs and comb
  • Conjunctivitis

Fowl Pox

Clinical signs of fowl pox include the following:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Rales
  • Gasping 
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Retarded growth
  • Warts or scabs

Infectious Bronchitis

Clinical signs of infectious bronchitis in chickens include the following:

  • Rales
  • Gasping
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Reduced egg production
  • Production of thin-shelled eggs

Quail bronchitis

Clinical signs of quail bronchitis in bobwhite quail include the following:

  • Rales
  • Sneezing
  • Gasping
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Inflammation of the eye
  • Loose, watery diarrhea

Laryngotracheitis 

Clinical signs of laryngotracheitis in chickens include the following:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Shaking head
  • Rales
  • Gasping
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Swelling of the face and/or wattles 
  • Retarded growth
  • General diarrhea
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Prostration

Newcastle Disease 

Clinical signs of Newcastle disease include the following:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Shaking head
  • Rales
  • Gasping
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Swelling of the face and/or wattles
  • Bluish-purple discoloration of the face
  • Retarded growth
  • General diarrhea
  • Green watery diarrhea
  • Twisting of the head and neck (torticollis)
  • Conjunctivitis 
  • Prostration

Bacterial Infections

Antibiotics are available to combat bacterial infections. It is important to use the correct antibiotics at the correct dosage and for the prescribed period of time.

Infectious Coryza

Clinical signs of infectious coryza in chickens include the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Shaking head
  • Rales
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Swelling of the face and/or wattles
  • Retarded growth
  • General diarrhea
  • Conjunctivitis

Fowl Cholera

Clinical signs of fowl cholera include the following:

  • Darkened head
  • Swollen head and wattles
  • Paralysis
  • Reduced egg production

Colibacillosis

Clinical signs of colibacillosis include the following:

  • Failure to thrive
  • Diarrhea
  • Respiratory problems 
  • Lameness 

Bordetellosis

Clinical signs of bordetellosis in turkeys, which usually manifest when birds are two to six weeks of age, include the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Swollen eyes

Fungal Infections

Aspergillosis

Clinical signs of aspergillosis include the following:

  • Gasping
  • Bluish-purple discoloration of the face
  • Paralysis
  • Twisting of the head and neck (torticollis)

Mycoplasmal Infections

Mycoplasmas are bacteria that lack a cell wall. 

Mycoplasma gallisepticum

Clinical signs of infection by Mycoplasma gallisepticum include the following:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Shaking of the head
  • Rales
  • Gasping
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Swelling of the face and/or wattles
  • Retarded growth
  • General diarrhea
  • Prostration

Mycoplasma synoviae

Clinical signs of infection by Mycoplasma synoviae include the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Shaking of the head 
  • Rales
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Discharge from the nose 
  • Swelling of the face and/or wattles
  • Retarded growth 
  • Lameness
  • Green, watery diarrhea
  • Swollen joints

Mycoplasma meleagridis

Clinical signs of infection by Mycoplasma meleagridis include the following:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing 
  • Rales
  • Retarded growth
  • Twisting of the head and neck (torticollis)