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Chicken Diseases and How to Treat Them

Chicken Diseases and How to Treat Them

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Raising chickens in my backyard comes with immense benefits. But chicken diseases can pose a threat to these lovely birds. Knowing about different poultry diseases provides ideas to solve this problem. Let’s find out major chicken diseases, their symptoms and how to treat them.

What are the 9 chicken diseases and how to treat them? The most common diseases that affect chickens include Newcastle disease, Fowlpox, Botulism, Fowl Cholera, Infectious Coryza, Thrush, Avian influenza, Mushy Chicky and Pullorum.

Chicken diseases can discourage you from venturing into poultry production. However, you may overcome this problem if you are knowledgeable about different diseases and how to control them. Below are 9 chicken diseases and how to treat them to keep your flock healthy and productive.

Chicken Diseases and How to Treat Them

Newcastle Disease

Newcastle disease affects chickens mostly
Newcastle disease

Cause – Newcastle disease affects chickens mostly. This contagious viral infection causes a respiratory nervous breakdown in chickens. So, if you get into contact with a sick bird, you can easily spread it to the healthy ones.

Symptoms – Newcastle disease appears through the chicken’s respiratory system. The sick bird will experience discharge from the nostrils, difficulties in breathing and eyes turning murky. Also, the wings and legs will become paralyzed with the neck twisted.

Treatment – Mature chickens usually recover from Newcastle disease on their own, unlike the young ones. Sadly, the young bird will eventually die from the disease.

Fowl Pox

Fowl Pox - Chicken Disease

Cause – Avipox virus is the main cause of the Fowl Pox disease in chickens. The disease spreads from the sick chicken to other healthy birds through their wounds. Alternatively, the sick bird can spread the Fowl Pox Virus to the nearby coop and infect other chickens.

Symptoms – The sick bird develops white spots on the skin, white ulcers in the trachea or mouth and scabby sores on the combs. The layers will suddenly stop laying eggs once they contract Fowl Pox.

Treatment – Provide your sick chickens with soft food first. Then give them a warm, dry and well-ventilated place to recover. On the other hand, you can vaccinate your healthy birds to prevent them from contracting  Fowl Pox.


Botulism in chickens
Botulism in chickens

Cause – The major cause of Botulism disease is Clostridium botulinum bacteria. The bacteria produces a toxin that makes chickens sick when they ingest it. This toxin can affect all domestic fowl including several wild birds. The disease spreads to healthy chickens through food and water contamination.

Symptoms – You will notice progressive tremors in your chickens. This condition progresses further into body paralysis which affects the breathing. Their feathers may come out easily when you pull them and death can occur within a short time.

Treatment – You may approach your local vet for the antitoxin to save your bird from this disease. If you discover the disease in time, you can mix 30mls of warm water with 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt. Then administer the solution to the sick bird using a dropper once per day.

Botulism is preventable if you keep your flock of birds in a clean environment. On top of that, ensure that you discard the dead birds immediately to minimize the spread of the disease.

Fowl Cholera

Fowl Cholera2
Fowl Cholera2

Causes – The organism responsible for Fowl Cholera among chickens is Pasteurella multocida. These bacteria thrive best in contaminated water and food. So, when your birds ingest contaminated food, they can easily get infected with Fowl Cholera.

Symptoms – You will see yellowish or greenish diarrhea from infected chickens. Other symptoms include joint pain, struggle to breathe and darkened wattle at advanced stances of the infection.

Treatment – There is no known treatment for Fowl Cholera at the moment. But if your birds survive the disease, it will remain a carrier forever. For that reason, you must isolate the infected birds and destroy them to protect the rest. Otherwise, you may vaccinate your healthy flock to prevent the disease.

Infectious Coryza

Infectious Coryza in Chickens
Infectious Coryza

Cause – Infectious Coryza is one of the deadly chicken diseases caused by Haemophilus gallinarum bacteria. Most of the infections occur when an infected bird mingles with a healthy flock. Besides, healthy birds can contract the disease through contaminated surfaces or drinking contaminated water.

Symptoms – You will notice a swollen head on an infected chicken. Their eyelids and combs will swell with a discharge flowing from the nose and eyes. The affected layers will stop laying eggs and their wings will have some moisture underneath.

Treatment – There’s no vaccine to stop the spread of  Infectious Coryza. The moment you realize your chickens are infected, you should isolate, kill and burn their carcasses immediately. Even though some of them might survive from the disease, they will remain carriers for the rest of their lives. This is a great risk to the rest of your birds, so you must destroy them.


thrush in Chickens
thrush in Chickens

Cause – Thrush is a fungal infection among chickens. The condition is a result of a yeast known as Candida albicans.

Symptoms – The infected chicken will have a whitish oozy substance in the crop. In addition, the bird will look lethargic with ruffled feathers and a crusty vent area. Given that Thrush is a fungal infection, your chickens can contract it through moldy food or contaminated surfaces

Treatment – Thrush has no known vaccine at the moment although you can treat it using antifungal medicine. You may prevent the spread of the disease by providing your birds with clean water and food.

Avian Influenza

Avian influenza in chickens
Avian influenza

Cause – Avian Influenza is commonly referred to as bird flu. The disease causes fear among chicken owners from different parts of the world. This is because the disease spreads to chickens and humans as well. Once you get to know its symptoms, you will put your fear aside and control it. The most important step in controlling this deadly disease is acting quickly to contain it.

Symptoms – Avian Influenza exhibits signs such as respiratory problems and sudden decline in egg production. Birds develop diarrhea with swellings all over their faces. The most affected parts are the comb and wattles. You will also notice discolored or bluish comb and wattle on your chicken including reddish spots on their legs.

Treatment – Unfortunately, there is no known vaccine for Avian Influenza so far. Therefore, the infected birds will always remain carriers and pose a threat to the rest of your flock. Wild animals can carry the disease and spread it from one chicken to another. Once your bird contracts Avian Influenza, you can isolate it, kill it and burn its carcass. Also, you must sanitize everything that came into contact with the infected bird. This will prevent new cases of infections in the future.

Mushy Chick

Mushy Chick

Cause – This is a bacterial infection caused by the improper enclosure of the chick’s navel. Faulty incubation, overheating or chilling and poor hatchery sanitation are the likely causes of this disease.

Symptoms – Mushy Chick, as the name suggests, affects newly hatched chicks. The infected chicks are characterized by inflamed, enlarged or blue-tinted midsection. The chick will appear drowsy and produce an unpleasant smell. The sickling chick will look weak.

Treatment – Even though there’s no vaccine for Mushy Chick diseases, antibiotics may work. The disease is transmitted from the infected chicks to the healthy ones. Also, the transmission occurs from dirty surfaces to the chicks. To prevent the spread of this disease, you must separate the sick birds from the rest.


Cause – The main cause of Pullorum disease in chickens is Salmonella pullorum bacteria. As usual, this pathogen is transmitted from eggs to birds. But the transmission occurs through other means as well. Contaminated surfaces and infected birds (carriers) may transmit the bacteria to healthy birds.

Symptoms – The disease affects older chickens and chicks differently. The chicks may become inactive with white paste spread all over their bottom. At the same time, they will experience breathing problems. A few will pass on with no signs of Pullorum diseases. On the other hand, mature chickens will sneeze and cough and their egg production will drop drastically.

Treatment – Pullorum disease has no vaccine. This means all the infected birds should be killed and their carcasses buried or burnt. This is the only way of preventing the spread of this disease from one bird to another.

Related Questions

Which is the most effective way of keeping your chickens healthy?

A well-balanced diet can keep your flock of birds healthy and productive. Besides, a clean environment can play a crucial role in preventing common diseases among chickens. Based on the information about 9 chicken diseases and how to treat them, you can easily point out cleanliness as a common remedy.

What are the most common chicken disease-causing agents?

Most of the diseases that affected chickens are caused by bacteria, parasites, fungi, and viruses. Knowing the cause of each disease will help you find the correct remedy.

In Conclusion:

So far you have an idea about 9 chicken diseases and how to treat them. Once you identify the symptoms of a particular disease, it will be easier for you to treat your bird. Since prevention is better than cure, try to find proper ways of protecting your birds against diseases.

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