11 Signs of Fowl Cholera in Your Poultry

Sudden death is like irrational judgement. Death usually has a cause, predisposition, it can’t just happen. Well, that’s true. You may find your chicken just die with baseless reason, and you don’t even know why. It might be big chance that it’s because of fowl cholera. Some even said that the first clinical signs of cholera is sudden death. How is it even possible? Usually, there’s always a reasonable cause for the death, like a noticeable signs of sickness (there are even common symptoms for sick hamster!) Well, you’ll know the reason once you read about these 11 signs of fowl cholera in your poultry that I will discuss here.

Knowing and understanding the clinical signs of this horrible sickness will make you more aware and cautious everyday of your chicken. Because, any disease must have the symptoms, only sometimes we don’t recognize them. Because, I mean, who wants to think so badly about their pets (or live stocks? You decide!)? We always hope for the best and want for the positive situation. However, we need to be a bit cautious so we can avoid the worst.

About Fowl Cholera

Before I go discussing 9 signs of fowl cholera in your poultry, you may want to know what exactly fowl cholera is. In short, fowl cholera is an infectious disease caused by bacteria, called Pasteurella multocida. P.multocida itself is a small, gram-negative, and non motile rod with a capsule. After repeated subculture, they may grow pleomorphisme, which is another form from the actual object. Like virus, the cells in tumors, and so on.

How this disease spread is by the ingestion through drinking water, food or litter that is already contaminated with droppings from sick or carrier birds. And moreover, other non-avian animals can carry this bacteria. It means, you need to avoid your chicken making contact with other animals, like rodents, even other pets, etc.

Another route to infection of this bacteria is through respiratory, like when your chicken sneeze into other chicken or other birds. Sometimes, this bacteria also contaminate dusts and when your chicken inhale them, they can get infected.

Clinical Signs

The infection of P. multocida can cause hyper acute, acute, and chronic course in chicken. The hyper acute one is the one that I mentioned earlier, that your chicken just suddenly found dead. And the more horrifying thing is there is no sign observable slightest symptoms or detectable pathognomonic injury. So, the only sign of the disease is when your chicken is dead. Really heartbreaking!

While there is only one incurable sign of hyper acute course of this disease, there are 11 signs of fowl cholera in your poultry, in the acute and chronic course.

When the infected chicken are in acute course, it can cause sudden death, too. But, usually, you can see clinical signs in your chicken and the mortality rate is around 50%. Although it’s awful, it can also mean that there’s still hope for your chicken to get healed and stay alive. What you must know, though, even though chicken will survive this disease, the bacteria will stay in their body and they will be a carrier.

Acute Course

The onset of the acute course is 12-24 hours, whereas the sub-acute course is around 24-48 hours. While in this course, the signs of fowl cholera is as mentioned below :

1. High Morbidity and mortality with depression and fever

Like I mentioned before, this disease can show no obvious symptom. So, sometimes the very sign of the infection of this bacteria is when you find some of your chicken are suddenly died. Even so, sometimes you can see your chicken suddenly look depressed, like sleepiness.

What a heartbreaking situation to see your pets depressed, you must want to make them happy again (how do you do it to chicken? treat depression in dogs maybe easier). Once you notice the depression of your chicken’s behavior, I suggest you to check your chicken’s temperature from their vent. The normal temperature of chicken is 41°C (106°F).

2. Discharge from beak and nostrils

The fowl cholera also can cause beak and nostrils discharge from chicken.

3. Anorexia

Not only human that can suffer from anorexia, apparently chicken, too. You might know this term already since it’s more and more common, it’s almost scary. Just like in human, the anorexia is the condition where chicken get more and more skinny because of loss appetite. Appetite loss happen in almost every living things, like an appetite loss in cattle or other pets or live stocks, but losing appetite of chronic disease is simply horrible.

4. Diarrhea (yellow to green)

As an owner, you always need to observe what happen to your pets or any animals you take care of. This also includes chicken, even though chicken seem just wandering around fine. But, if there are some changes in them, you gotta be start cautious. If your chicken’s poo start changing from yellow to green, it means they have diarrhea. Of course, it doesn’t always mean that your chicken get fowl cholera, you just check other clinical signs or discuss it with your veterinarian.

5. Dyspnea

Dyspnea means your chicken having trouble breathing, sometimes there are accelerated in their breathing. Usually, when your chicken have trouble breathing, they will keep their beak open and lift their head every time they take a breathe.

6. Cyanosis of comb and wattles

Also, you will find cyanosis in their comb and wattles. If you’re the owner of chicken, you must know that the comb (red thingy on chicken’s head) and wattles (red thingy dangles below chicken’s beak) has red color. When fowl cholera attacks them, you can see the color of comb and wattles are changing, sometimes it becomes bluish. This is what we call cyanosis.

7. Haemorrhages

It means the infected chicken might show local inflammation in organs and skin because of ruptured blood vessel.
Actually, the clinical signs of this acute course are also hepatomegaly (enlarged liver) and hepatic congestion (the failure in heart function), oedematous lungs (a build-up fluid in lungs), and congestive spleen. Well, we can’t observe it with our own eyes, though.

Chronic Course

Fowl cholera doesn’t always kill the chicken, sometimes there are chicken can survive, even though they still infected. This chronic condition usually carry other clinical signs, different from the acute course of fowl cholera.

8. Failure of growth and development of body

While the infected chicken survive for a long time, despite the infection, they usually just stop growing and developing. They will look cachectic, which means general physical wasting and malnutrition. Malnutrition without chronic disease maybe a curable condition. You can make malnourished cat to gain weight again, right?

9. Drop in egg production

For the chicken raised for eggs, the production loss of eggs might be a sign of fowl cholera.

10. Swelling of combs and wattles

In the chronic course of fowl cholera, the chicken will have noticeable swelling of the combs and wattles. And if you cut these two, you will find yellowing caseous lesions from which oozes a purulent fluid, as well as yellowish cheesy-like caseum.

11. Torticollis

It might be the last of 11 signs of fowl cholera in your poultry, but it’s definitely not the least. Torticollis means wry neck, the abnormality of chicken’s head and neck position. People commonly said it as twisted neck or crooked neck, because the neck is really twisted. But, the neck itself is not broken or anything. Once the chicken go into this stage, they will not be able to eat and drink on their own. So, they need assistance to eat and drink, with intensive care. Read also Causes of Paralyzed in Chicken Legs