Synonyms: brooder pneumonia, mycotic pneumonia, fungal pneumonia, Aspergillus. When the source of the disease is the hatchery, the disease is called brooder pneumonia. In older birds, the disease is called aspergillosis.
Species affected: All birds (domestic poultry, pigeons, canary and zoo bird species), animals, humans, and plants are susceptible.
Clinical signs: Aspergillosis occurs as an acute disease of young birds and a chronic disease in mature birds. Young birds have trouble breathing and gasp for air. Characteristically, there are no rales or respiratory sounds associated with aspergillosis. Feed consumption decreases. Occasionally there is paralysis or convulsions caused by the fungal toxin. Mortality in young birds averages 5–20 percent, but may be as high as 50 percent. Mature birds also have respiratory distress, reduced feed consumption, and may have a bluish and dark color of the skin (cyanosis). Nervous disorders, such as twisted necks, may occur in a few birds (see Table 1). Mortality in mature birds is usually less than 5 percent.
Transmission: Aspergillosis is caused by a fungus. The fungus grows well at room temperature and higher. All litter and nest materials (peat moss, peanut hulls, sawdust, peat, bark, straw) have been known to have been contaminated with aspergillus. Feed and water should be suspect when attempting to identify the source of contamination.
Treatment: There is no cure for infected birds. The spread can be controlled by improving ventilation, eliminating the source of the infection, and adding a fungistat (mycostatin, mold curb, sodium or calcium propionate, or gentian violet) to the feed and/or copper sulfate or acidified copper in the drinking water for 3 days. The litter can be sprayed lightly with an oil-base germicide to control dust and air movement of fungal spores.
Prevention: It is important to thoroughly clean and disinfect the brooding area between broods. Use only clean litter, preferably soft wood shavings. Do not use sawdust, litter high in bark content, or shavings that have been wet.
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