Hemorrhagic Enteritis and Marble Spleen Disease in Poultry

Small and Backyard Flocks May 05, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky

Hemorrhagic enteritis is an acute digestive disorder affecting young turkeys. Marble spleen disease is an acute respiratory disease of pheasants. Both diseases are caused by similar viruses. Infection typically occurs when birds ingest the virus, which is often introduced to a flock through contaminated clothing or equipment.

Clinical Signs

Turkey poults and pheasants less than four weeks of age are typically resistant to infection due to the presence of maternal antibodies.

Hemorrhagic Enteritis in Turkeys

Hemorrhagic enteritis typically affects turkeys 6 to 12 weeks of age. Turkeys that have contracted this virus exhibit depression and have bloody droppings. Infection leads to death. 

Marble Spleen Disease in Pheasants

Marble spleen disease typically affects pheasants three to eight months of age. Pheasants that have contracted this virus exhibit depression, enlarged mottled spleens, and lung congestion. Infection leads to death. 


There are no treatments for this disease.

Prevention and Control

To prevent the spread of this disease, it is important to maintain effective sanitation and biosecurity. A commercial vaccine is available.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.