All about Pullorum disease

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Watch out for Pullorum Disease! Not only can it infect your flock, it can also make humans sick, too. If your flock becomes infected, you will likely need to euthanize them all to keep this highly communicable disease from spreading. Read on to find out more:

Pullorum Disease Also called
PD, Bacillary White Diarrhea, BWD, White Diarrhea


General signs -
In chicks: lack of appetite, lethargy, huddling near heat source and fluffed up down. Pain and shrill peeping during defecation. In hens, excessive thirst, shrivelled comb, drop in laying.
Cardinal or diagnostic signs -
White or green diarrhea. In chicks, white pasting. Mortality is extremely high.

Salmonella pullorum bacteria

Can be communicated from mother to chick in ovo. Can be spread bird to bird directly and indirectly via feed or litter. Can be carried in by wild birds or by rodents. Can also be spread by and to humans from contaminated shoes or other equipment. Be sure to practice good biosecurity.

Communicability to humans
Yes. Humans can get infected with this salmonellosis, chiefly by eating infected meat or eggs, especially if they are improperly cooked. Humans can also become infected by using poor biosecurity practices (for instance, coming into contact with infected litter and then failing to wash hands), so be sure to thoroughly wash and sanitize hands after handling birds or equipment.

Incubation period
A week to 10 days

Yes. Chicks and chickens who survive can become asymptomatic carriers. When the latent infection remains in the ovary, as often happens, and chicks produced will be infected.

Yes. This can be carried by song birds such as sparrows and finches.

Home treatment and/or prevention
Prevention: Buy only from NPIP hatcheries and breeders. Practice good biosecurity. Keep your coop and run clean and dry.

Treatment: None. Mortality is extremely high in young birds. In addition, in most states, the disease must be reported to authorities, and the whole flock must be euthanized because this infection is so communicable in birds, also communicable to humans, and can remain latent in survivors.

Veterinary care
Consult a vet or your local extension agent to get a firm diagnosis and find out what the reporting laws are in your area. Regardless of the requirements of your local laws, though, we urge you to act responsibly and euthanize a flock infected with this illness so that it doesn�t spread to other flocks and pets, or pose a risk to your family.

Unfortunately, this illness usually requires euthanization because it is so dangerous and communicable. Luckily, it is rare in the United States.

Other conditions, illnesses and/or diseases with similar signs:
Can be mistaken for omphalitis, coccidiosis, and some other types of salmonellosis such as typhoid and paratyphoid. White diarrhea and pasting can also arise in chicks from simple chilling, so can be mistaken for pasting.