Synonyms: bacillary white diarrhea, BWD
Species affected: Chickens and turkeys are most susceptible, although other species of birds can become infected. Pullorum has never been a problem in commercially grown game birds such as pheasant, chukar partridge, and quail. Infection in mammals is rare.
Clinical signs: Death of infected chicks or poults begins at 5–7 days of age and peaks in another 4–5 days. Clinical signs including huddling, droopiness, diarrhea, weakness, pasted vent, gasping, and chalk-white feces, sometimes stained with green bile. Affected birds are unthrifty and stunted because they do not eat (see Table 3). Survivors become asymptomatic carriers with localized infection in the ovary.
Transmission: Pullorum is spread primarily through the egg, from hen to chick. It can spread further by contaminated incubators, hatchers, chick boxes, houses, equipment, poultry by-product feedstuffs, and carrier birds.
Treatment: Treatment is for flock salvage only. Several sulfonamides, antibiotics, and antibacterials are effective in reducing mortality, but none eradicates the disease from the flock.
Pullorum eradication is required by law. Eradication requires destroying the entire flock.
Prevention: Pullorum outbreaks are handled, on an eradication basis, by state/federal regulatory agencies. As part of the National Poultry Improvement Program, breeder replacement flocks are tested before onset of production to assure pullorum-free status. This mandatory law includes chickens, turkeys, show birds, waterfowl, game birds, and guinea fowl. In Florida, a negative pullorum test or certification that the bird originated from a pullorum-free flock is required for admission for exhibit at shows and fairs. Such requirements have been beneficial in locating pullorum-infected flocks of hobby chickens.
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