Terminology Related to Poultry Disease

Small and Backyard Flocks May 24, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Salient Terminology

  • Acute: An acute disease typically involves a sudden onset of severe clinical signs and death (in contrast with a chronic illness, which involves long-term or recurrent symptoms).
  • Chronic: A chronic disease generally progresses slowly and/or involves long-term or recurrent symptoms (in contrast with an acute illness, which involves a sudden onset of symptoms).
  • Contagious: A contagious disease spreads rapidly from one individual to another (in contrast with a noncontagious disease, which does not spread easily).
  • Infectious: Infectious diseases are caused by organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, that infect, or invade, another organism and cause disease.
  • Morbidity: The term morbidity refers to the number of birds within a given flock that are affected by a certain condition or disease (disease prevalence within a population) and that need to be culled— for health reasons such as leg problems or other clinical signs of disease—as a result.
  • Mortality: The term mortality refers to the number of birds that die from an illness within a given flock.
  • Noncontagious: A noncontagious disease typically does not spread easily from individual to individual (in contrast with a contagious disease, which spreads easily).
  • Noninfectious: Noninfectious diseases are caused by nonliving agents such as poisons, mycotoxins, and nutritional deficits.
  • Poultry: The term poultry refers to chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, quail, pheasants, pigeon, guinea fowl, pea fowl, ostrich, emu, and rhea.

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