Bacillary white diarrhoea, known as pullorum, causes widespread death in chickens. It occurs when chicks reach five to seven days old and lasts only four to five days. During that span, infected chicks quickly perish. Any chicks that survive without treatment will become asymptomatic carriers and must be destroyed. Treatments offers only minimal survival numbers, and the disease will continue to persist within the flock.
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Young chicks begin exhibiting symptoms of bacillary white diarrhoea by huddling together with general lethargy. The young bird's faeces has a chalk-white appearance. Often the white faeces will show streaks of green bile. Their vent opening will be matted with fecal residue. The chick may cry and make shrill noises when trying to defecate. It will show difficulty breathing and may begin to gasp for air. Sick chicks will cease to eat.
The hen often transmits acillary white diarrhoea to the egg if she is a carrier. Transmission can also occur from unsanitary conditions, dirty incubators, contaminated feed, living conditions where sick birds resided or chick boxes that have housed infected chicks.
Infected chicks often responds to treatment with antibacterials, antibiotics and sulfonamides. In the United States the disease must be eradicated from flocks, which means that the entire flock must be destroyed by euthanasia. Flock eradication is required by law, according to the University of Florida.
The entire eradication process is promptly handled by state and federal regulatory agencies when a positive diagnosis of bacillary white diarrhoea is made. New flocks will undergo blood testing to determine whether they could be carriers.
Once all infected chicks and chickens have been destroyed, the surrounding area must be thoroughly disinfected because transmission can occur from remaining feather dander, egg shells or droppings. When the area is sanitary the farmer can consider the purchase of new birds. Once new birds are aquired they must undergo testing before egg production to make sure they are not carriers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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