Fowl Cholera (Acute)

If your birds seem completely healthy one day, and dead the next, there is an fair chance it is the result of Fowl Cholera.  The disease was first identified in 1736, yet much about the cause, distribution and treatment of the disease is still not fully known.  There are actually two types of FC, acute and chronic, with similar symptoms, transmission, prevention and treatment.   The primary difference is the rate and extent to which the disease spreads.   Chronic Fowl Cholera incubates longer, spreads more slowly, and affects fewer birds than Acute FC. 


Who:  All birds;  turkeys and those with webbed feet are especially susceptible; most commonly found in:

  • Chickens
  • Ducks
  • Geese
  • Turkeys

Where:  Worldwide, but more common in warm areas.   Widespread in the USA. 

When:  Typically birds older than 4 months, however it is seen in younger turkeys.  

Why:  Bacterium, Pasteurella Multocida


  • Can be transmitted by rodents, wild birds & animals   
  • Carriers have been identified in flocks with no known history of outbreak 
  • Often the true source can't be identified        .
  • Once contracted, can be spread through drinking water and/or feces 
  • Survivors remain carriers 


            Common Symptoms:

  • Birds appear healthy one day, dead the next. 
  •  Disease has very fast progression.
  • Extreme thirst
  • Large amounts of discolored diarrhea (usually light green or white)
  • Loss of Appetite

              Other  Symptoms:

  • Breathing difficulty w/ rattling sound
  • Discolored head (blue)
  • Fever
  • Lameness
  • Lethargy
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Swollen joints & feet
  • Swollen wattles and face (warm to the touch)
  • Twisted neck (in turkeys)
  • Weight loss




            Note:  The disease often reoccurs following the discontinuation of antibiotics, which indicates that the treatment may not eliminate the bacteria P. Multocida from the flock.   Depopulation and disinfection of the coop and supplies may be required to completely eliminate Fowl Cholera.   Poultry can be reintroduced after  3-4 weeks.   


Vaccine:  Yes (click here for more information) 

  • Recommended on farms that have experienced a previous outbreak. 
  • Vaccination requires a series of two shots administered 2-4 weeks apart. 
  • A secondary method involves a live culture that is administered in drinking water, however this method may be less effective.  

Coop care:

  •  Avoid stress caused by unsanitary conditions.
  •  Disinfect and dry out coop bedding
  • Eliminate problematic and chronic poor drainage areas of soil in the run, especially still or brackish water.
  • Internal and external parasites can increase susceptibility. 
  • Protect the coop from wild birds.
  •  Remove any decaying carcasses.
  • Rodent population should be controlled. 
  • Secondary infections can increase susceptibility. 


Also Known As: 

  •  a
  • a
  • b

Affects:  e

Clinical Diagnosis:  Re

Diseases with similar symptoms:  e.

Duration of symptoms:  e

Incubation:  e

Morbidity:  High (>50%) and up to 100%

Mortality:  e

Transmission to people:  e


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A righteous man cares about his animal's health...

Proverbs 12:10a