Types of disease affecting poultry

There are four main types of disease affecting poultry: metabolic and nutritional diseases; infectious diseases; parasitic diseases; and behavioural diseases.

Metabolic and nutritional diseases

These are conditions caused by a disturbance of normal metabolic functions either through a genetic defect, inadequate or inappropriate nutrition or impaired nutrient utilisation. These include Fatty Liver Syndrome, Perosis (or slipped tendon), Rickets and Cage Layer Fatigue.

Infectious diseases

An infectious disease is any disease caused by invasion of a host by a pathogen which subsequently grows and multiplies in the body. Infectious diseases are often contagious, which means they can be spread directly or indirectly from one living thing to another. These include Avian Encephalomyelitis, Avian Influenza, Avian Tuberculosis, Chicken Anaemia Virus Infection (or CAV), Chlamydiosis, Egg Drop Syndrome (or EDS), Fowl Cholera (or Pasteurellosis), Fowl Pox, Infectious Bronchitis, Infectious Bursal Disease (or Gumboro), Infectious Coryza, Infectious Laryngotracheitis, Lymphoid Leukosis, Marek’s Disease, Mycoplasmosis, Necrotic Enteritis, Newcastle Disease and Salmonellosis.

Parasitic diseases

Parasitic diseases are infections or infestations with parasitic organisms. They are often contracted through contact with an intermediate vector, but may occur as the result of direct exposure. A parasite is an organism that lives in or on, and takes its nourishment from, another organism. A parasite cannot live independently. These include Coccidiosis, Cryptosporidiosis, Histomoniasis, Lice and Mites, Parasitic Worms (or Helminths), Toxoplasmosis and Trichomoniasis.

Behavioural diseases

Abnormal behavioural patterns can lead to injury or ill health of the abnormally behaving bird and/or its companions. These include Cannibalism (or aggressive pecking).

Diseases caused by Viruses

Avian Influenza

Avian Encephalomyelitis

Big Liver and Spleen Disease

Chicken Anaemia Virus Infection (or CAV)

Egg drop syndrome (or EDS)

Fowl Pox

Inclusion Body Hepatitis (or Fowl adenovirus type 8 )

Infectious Bronchitis

Infectious Bursal Disease (or Gumboro)

Infectious Laryngotracheitis


Lymphoid Leukosis

Lympoid Tumour Disease (Reticuloendotheliosis)

Marek’s Disease Virus or MDV

Newcastle Disease

Runting/stunting and malabsorption syndromes

Viral Arthritis (Tenosynovitis)

Diseases caused by Chlamydia


Diseases caused by Mycoplasmas

Mycoplasmosis – MG (Mycoplasma gallisepticum; MG infection; Chronic Respiratory Disease)

Mycoplasmosis – MS (Mycoplasma synoviae; infectious synovitis)

Diseases caused by Bacteria



Infectious Coryza

Fowl Cholera (or pasteurellosis)

Necrotic Enteritis



Spirochaetosis (Avian Intestinal Spirochaetosis)

Tuberculosis (Avian Tuberculosis)

Diseases caused by Fungi



Moniliasis (Candidiasis; crop mycosis)

Diseases caused by Protozoa






Diseases caused by Internal Parasites

Round worms

Caecal worms

Capillary worms

Tape worms

Diseases caused by External Parasites

Several types of louse (insect; plural – lice)

Stickfast flea (insect)

Fowl tick

Several types of mite (acarid)

Diseases caused by Metabolic Disorders

Ascites (waterbelly)

Cage Layer Fatigue and Rickets

Fatty Liver Haemorrhagic Syndrome

Diseases caused by environmental factors

Cannibalism (or aggressive pecking)


Darkling Beetles

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