Synonyms: navel ill, mushy chick disease
Species affected: chickens
Clinical signs: Affected chicks may have external navel infection, large unabsorbed yolk sacs, peritonitis with fetid odor, exudates adhering to the navel, edema of the skin of ventral body area, septicemia and dehydration.
Transmission: Infection occurs at the time of hatching or shortly thereafter, before navels are healed. Chicks from dirty hatching eggs or eggs with poor quality shells, or newly hatched chicks placed in dirty holding boxes, are most susceptible. Chicks removed prior to complete healing of the navel due to improper temperature and/or humidity are also more susceptible. Eggs that explode in the hatching tray contaminate other eggs in the tray and increase the incidence.
Treatment: There is no specific treatment for omphalitis. Most affected birds die in the first few days of life. Unaffected birds need no medication.
Prevention: Control is by prevention through effective hatchery sanitation, hatchery procedures, breeder flock surveillance, and proper preincubation handling of eggs. Mushy chicks should be culled from the hatch and destroyed. If chick mortality exceeds 3 percent, the breeder flocks and egg handling and hatching procedures should be reviewed.
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