Physical Signs of 5 Common Poultry Diseases and Treatments (Pictures)

poultry diseases

Running a poultry farm successfully may not be possible if you lack the knowledge and ability to identify common poultry diseases with the signs exhibited by the chickens. There are different diseases of poultry birds; bacterial, viral, protozoans, fungal and nutritional deficiencies, are the major causative agents of these diseases. Poultry disease symptoms and treatments must be treated as urgent as possible. Delay is dangerous in poultry farming; especially when you encounter poultry respiratory diseases, you just have to be proactive to salvage your flock.



Poultry birds often show signs of diseases through their physical appearance, droppings, and sound they produce. At times, poultry farmers are always lost in an attempt to manage a poultry disease, this is because they lack the ability to interpret or translate the signs exhibited by the chickens into the best solution. In this article, I will show you sure signs of common poultry diseases and the best treatment measures.   

Signs Of Common Poultry Diseases

1. Fowlpox disease

Fowlpox is a viral disease that affects almost all poultry birds including chickens, pigeons, turkeys, and other birds. The signs of fowl pox disease are not visible for the first 5 weeks. Chickens with fowl pox firstly exhibit a drop in egg production, loss of appetite or weight, lesions inside the mouth and throats. These symptoms may thrive in the flock for about 3-5 weeks before lesions start forming on wattles, ears, and combs as seen in the image below.

image of fowlpox in chicken
Signs of Fowlpox in chicken

 Other signs of fowlpox in chickens are:

  • Pimples or scabs on the on birds combs, wattles, eyelids
  • High body temperatures
  • Watery discharge from the eyes
  • Difficulty in breathing accompanied by wheezing sound.
  • Reduced appetite
  • Tiredness followed by a sudden death
Treatment and prevention of fowl pox disease

Fowlpox disease is best controlled and prevented through vaccination at 3rd week in hot areas and 6th week in other areas. Infected chickens must be isolated to prevent the spread of the disease. Treatment is done by administering broad-spectrum antibiotics.

2. Marek’s disease

Marek’s Disease is another viral poultry disease that causes tumors in chickens. It is caused by six different herpes viruses, which affect very young birds. Marek’s disease is one of the most common poultry diseases you see in a flock of young poultry birds. It causes great distress as it is often seen in pullets between 12 and 20 weeks old. This virus is spread by a bird to bird contact and contact with infected bedding, dust, and dirty litter. The most prominent signs of Marek’s disease are one-legged paralysis and small tumors in the feather follicles as seen below.



signs of Marek's disease
Signs of Marek’s disease

Other signs are:

  • Paralysis of legs, wings, and neck.
  • Loss of weight.
  • Grey iris or irregular pupil.
  • Vision impairment.
  • The skin around feather follicles raised and roughened
Treatment and prevention of Marek’s disease

The truth is, if a bird is infected with Marek’s disease, there is no treatment and infected birds will eventually die. Marek’s disease is best prevented through vaccination and biosecurity measures, such as:

  • use foot dips around the farm premises
  • Restriction of vehicles and equipment
  •  Regular disinfection and fumigation of farm equipment and surrounding.

3. Infectious bursal disease (IBD)

Infectious bursal disease (IBD), also known as Gumboro is an acute and highly contagious viral infection of young chickens. IBD is caused by a birnavirus. The virus is resistant to many disinfectants and environmental factors and remains infectious for at least four months in the poultry house environment.



The clinical form of IBD usually occurs in chickens from 3 to 6 weeks of age. This disease has a sudden onset, and the mortality rate in the flock increases rapidly. Major signs of Gumboro disease include dehydration, trembling, coughing and panting, ruffled feathers, vent pecking, and depression.

Signs of Gumboro diseas
Signs of Gumboro disease
Treatment and prevention of Gumboro Disease

Like other viral disease, there is no confirmed treatment for IBD but the best approach to prevent this disease is biosecurity programs and strict vaccination exercise.



An effective IBD prevention and control program must involve an effective breeder vaccination program, an effective biosecurity program, and an effective broiler vaccination

4. Newcastle disease

Newcastle disease is a viral and zoonotic disease that affects all breeds of chickens as well as other poultry birds like turkey. Sadly, Newcastle disease, like other viral diseases, has no treatment or cure because it is a virus disease. The signs of Newcastle disease are very glaring and these are what often prompt farmers to know their flock is down on this disease. The most prominent sign of Newcastle disease is the twisting of the neck as seen below. 

Signs of Newcastle disease

Other signs are:

In chicks

  • Respiratory distress such as: coughing and sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • The birds drone together, keeps head on the ground, when on deep litter system,
  • The birds make screeching sound.
  • The bird has diarrhea or watery poo
  • Drooping wings 
  • In severe cases, Paralysis leads to death

In layers

  • The bird makes screeching sound.
  • The bird produces peewee eggs.
  • The bird produces shell-less eggs.
  • When it becomes severe and chronic, the birds turn their head and drop greenish feaces.
  • Swelling of the tissues of the head.
Treatment and prevention of Newcastle disease

There is no poultry drug to treat Newcastle disease but I would share with you effective management practices to control and prevent Newcastle disease.



There are Newcastle disease vaccines (Lasota) you must administer at a certain period of your production stage. Vaccination against Newcastle must be done at:

  • First week of stocking, usually at day 2-3
  • Day 10
  • Day 28
  • Day 42
  • Week 18
  • Once in 2 months for layers

Alternatively, you can prevent Newcastle disease using a herb called Tagiri has been proven very effective at controlling Newcastle disease in poultry. (put the pics)

5. Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is a protozoan disease caused by Eimeria spp. Coccidiosis is a very dreadful poultry disease that can ruin a farm within days. Yes, I mean days and not weeks or months; this makes the treatment of coccidiosis a less-effective approach to control the disease because a larger percentage of the birds would have been lost as a result of heavy infection. The most prominent signs of coccidiosis in poultry are bloodstains in droppings and droopiness of birds.

Sign of early stage of coccidiosis
Sign of early stage of coccidiosis
Sign of coccidiosis
signs of coccidiosis diseases
Treatment And Prevention Of Coccidiosis

The treatment for coccidiosis in poultry is always very late but it has to be done to recuperate the surviving chickens. Several drugs and herbs can be administered to restore the surviving chickens. Drugs for Coccidiosis in poultry are:

  • Baycox
  • Amprolium 20
  • Cossine

For quick action during acute mortality, Baycox should be administered. It is very expensive but very effective. Amprolium 20 and Cossine are also good for controlling Coccidiosis; for effective action, Amprolium 20 and Cossine should be administered together for 4-5 days and litter should be changed. Follow the instruction embedded in the package of the drugs to avoid overdose or under-dose.

Coccidiosis can be prevented by strictly adhering to the following practices:

  • Avoid overcrowding or high stocking density rate.
  • Ensure the litter is dry always.
  • Keep feed and water away from droppings.
  • Anti-coccidial drugs like Amprolium can be mixed with feed.

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These five poultry diseases are very common, if you can observe your birds closely and be proactive about these diseases, you would have a good poultry farming experience with low mortality and high profit.

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Author: Agbabiaka Abdulquadri

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