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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2016 4:59 pm 
Gallant Game
Gallant Game
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Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 6:47 pm
Posts: 491
Location: East Gippsland
From Gail Damerow's Chicken Health Handbook

Cholera (Acute)

ALSO CALLED avian cholera, avian hemorrhagic septicemia, avian pasteurellosis, fowl cholera

INCIDENCE relatively common worldwide; more likely in warm climates and in free-ranged birds; more prevalent
in late summer, fall, and winter

SYSTEM/ORGAN AFFECTED entire body (septicemic)


PROGRESSION acute, spreads rapidly, kills quickly

SYMPTOMS in mature birds or those approaching maturity: sudden death (hens dead in nests) or fever, loss of
appetite, increased thirst, depression, drowsiness, ruffled feathers, head pale and drawn back, increased respiratory
rate, mucous discharge from mouth and nose, watery white diarrhea later becoming thick and greenish yellow,
bluish comb and wattles, death within hours of first symptoms; survivors may recover and either eventually die
from emaciation and dehydration or develop chronic cholera


MORTALITY 10 to 20 percent among mature birds, can be as high as 45 percent; rare in birds under 16 weeks old

POSTMORTEM FINDINGS none in case of sudden death, otherwise blood in lungs and in fatty tissue of
abdomen; heart surrounded by fluid containing cheesy flakes; swollen, grayish liver (looks cooked) with small
grayish white spots (resembles cornmeal); sticky mucus in digestive tract, especially in the crop and intestine
in hens: yolk in abdominal cavity
RESEMBLES erysipelas, septicemic colibacillosis, poisoning (see page 139), typhoid

DIAGNOSIS symptoms, postmortem findings, laboratory identification of bacteria

CAUSE Pasteurella multocida bacteria that affect a variety of birds and increase in virulence as disease spreads;
bacteria survive for 1 month in manure, 3 months in moist soil; destroyed in 10 minutes by sunlight, also easily
destroyed by disinfectants, drying, heat

TRANSMISSION contagious; contact with mucus from the nose, mouth, or eyes of birds or animals with chronic
infection; mucus contaminating feed or drinking water; mucus on feed sacks, shoes, and used equipment; picking at
carcasses of dead birds

PREVENTION vaccination is not effective; purchase only cholera-free birds; avoid purchasing growing or mature
birds, which may be carriers; avoid stress due to heat, rough handling, parasites, abrupt change in rations, poor
nutrition, and poor sanitation; provide clean, safe drinking water; do not mix birds of different ages; control wild
birds, rodents, and other animals; keep pets away from chickens; burn or deeply bury carcasses of dead chickens

TREATMENT none effective, disease recurs when medication is discontinued and survivors may be carriers;
isolate and dispose of infected flock, thoroughly disinfect and dry housing, leave it vacant at least 3 months before
introducing new birds

HUMAN HEALTH RISK in poorly ventilated housing, possible upper respiratory tract infection (which can in
turn infect chickens through mucus discharged from human's mouth or nose); wear protective mask

Small free-range flock of Croad Langshans

PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:45 am 
Junior Champion Bird
Junior Champion Bird

Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2015 9:29 pm
Posts: 620
Location: Victoria
Hmm. Very weird. The photos look pretty clear and healthy to me. Nothing obvious anyway. I can't imagine a vet doing the post-mortem like you did would have found anything significant either. I guess the only way to know for sure would be to take samples and look at them microscopically, which isn't really a viable open for a home job.

It may have been an acute case of Cholera, but without opening up all of the dead birds or doing further testing I'm not sure how you'd be able to make a definitive diagnosis, of it, or anything else really.

Sorry you haven't been able to find out for sure what it was, but I hope that with the work you've done it sees the end of your problems.

Best of luck moving forward.

PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:22 pm 
Golden Phoenix
Golden Phoenix

Joined: Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:39 am
Posts: 10113
Location: Tarago, near Goulburn

It's sort of nice to open up a dead bird and see quite nice, red, non-mottled or ganky livers, hearts and lungs. He was a beautiful boy, actually, carrying no extra fat whatsoever. I get a lot of Wyandotte crosses and they tend to carry a lot of fat in the body cavity - where they get it from I have no idea, given their feed and the size of the paddock - but he had none. If I'd seen those organs in my general processing, I wouldn't have hesitated to feed the liver to my cat (she adores liver) and eaten the meat myself.

There is always the possibility, of course, that the two hens died of relatively old age - both were my CSIRO Leghorns - one the original generation and one the next gen along - and the boys died from stress caused by the younger cockerels in the pen coming into their spurs (so to speak) and starting to chase eachother around.

I need to process about 8 boys in that paddock. There's a metric bucketload of space for them, and I've never had deaths before even when there were more boys and fewer girls in that same location, but spring and boys and peculiar weather can always cause interesting interactions.

So, I'll keep a close eye on things and provide updates if anything - er - "interesting" - comes along. I rather hope it doesn't ...

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