Fowl Cholera


Fowl cholera is caused by the non-motile Gram negative bacterium Pasteurella multocida.


Transmission of fowl cholera is mainly from bird to bird by water or feed contamination. Vermin (rats and mice) also appear to play a role in contamination of water and feed with P. multocida.

Clinical Signs

Acute fowl cholera is a rapid septicaemic disease of high morbidity and mortality. Birds will frequently show inflammation of the spleen and liver accompanied by lesions and, at latter stages, diffuse hyperaemia, haemorrhage and inflammation. The acute disease can easily be mistaken for fowl typhoid.

In chronic forms of P. multocida infection the affected birds are frequently depressed and have decreased appetite. Chronic fowl cholera does not cause high mortality, although there will be an increase in deaths. A swollen face including the comb and wattle is a common feature of chronic fowl cholera.

We instruct our farmhands to be conscious with the following symptoms

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lightgreen diarrhea
  • Sticky saliva or mucus from inside the beak
  • Comb maybe swollen and discoloured
  • became lame from swollen joints
  • Wattles swell
  • Darkened breast muscle (if dead)


Both bacterial culture and PCR can detect P. multocida but further typing is needed as only avian-specific variants cause Fowl cholera, whilst strains associated with sheep and cattle rarely cause disease in avian species and vice versa.

Treatment and control

Treatment with appropriate antibiotics can be successful in halting mortality and restoring egg production but chronic carrier birds may remain in flocks of chickens after treatment meaning disease often reappears when treatment stops. As such antimicrobial therapy is often ineffective. As with Salmonella, removal of carrier birds from flocks and prevention of bird-to-bird spread is essential. Rodent control is also very important to prevent reintroduction of the infection. Vaccines, including killed bacterial vaccines or bacteria, are often effective as part of control strategies.

We use sulfa drugs and enrofloxacin to treat this one.

Enrofloxacin is a fluoroquinolone that was developed exclusively for veterinary use and is currently used in large-scale on poultry. Especially for the treatment of chronic respiratory disease, colibacillosis. Salmonellosis and fowl cholera (2).


  1. Habte, T., Amare, A., Bettridge, J., Collins, M., Christley, R. and Wigley, P. 2017. Guide to chicken health and management in Ethiopia. ILRI Manual 25. Nairobi, Kenya: International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) / CC By 4.0
  2. Sureshkumar V, Sarathchandra G and Ramesh J (2013) Biochemical, histopathological and ultra structural profile after pulsed water medication of enrofloxacin in broiler chickens, Vet World 6(9): 668 / CC By 4.0

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