Q: Fowl Spirochetosis (Brachyspira) Overview
A: Fowl Spirochetosis (Brachyspira)
AIS, Avian Intestinal Spirochetosis, Avian Spirochetosis
Common in some areas
General signs -
Sometimes no symptoms. Other times, symptoms may include lack of appetite, lethargy, sleepiness, increased demand for water, weight loss or failure to grow, drop in laying, dirty eggs, pasting
Cardinal or diagnostic signs -
Yellow or green watery droppings with a lot of white urates. Lab diagnosis.
Brachyspira spp, which are spirochetes (bacteria). Some species don't cause illness, such as Brachyspira innocens, while others are pathogenic, such as Brachyspira pilosicoli and Brachyspira intermedia.
Yes. Unlike the Borrelia form of spirochetosis, this is not tick-borne, but nonetheless, the bacteria can be picked up from scratching/foraging in fresh droppings or knocking them into the feeder, or from squabbling/picking that draws blood. It is thought that birds can also pick up the illness from fly populations.
Communicability to humans -
No risk known.
Incubation period -
3 to 12 days
No. Chickens that survive are not carriers, and are immune for some time to re-infection from the same bacteria.
Home treatment and/or prevention -
Prevention: Reduce stress in the coop to reduce picking and squabbling. Provide plenty of space. Keep coop bedding dry ad change it frequently. Keep feeders and waterers clean.
Treatment: No home treatment. Consult a vet.
Veterinary care - A vet can give you a firm diagnosis and treatment. Several antibiotics are quite effective against spirochetosis, but your vet will need to prescribe them and offer advice on the egg-discard period. Some types of brachyspira do not cause disease, so if brachyspira are detected in droppings, often the vet will decide to distinguish the species in order to make sure s/he is offering the correct treatment.
Recovery - Variable. Some strains are quite mild. Others are severe.
Other conditions, illnesses and/or diseases with similar signs:
Loose droppings are common with other infections like coccidiosis and digestive issues. Fowl Spirochetosis (Borrelia) is quite similar. In most cases only lab diagnosis can tell them apart.