Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky
Colibacillosis, also called mushy chick disease and cellulitis, is infection by the Escherichia coli (E. Coli) bacteria. This disease affects all poultry as well as wild birds. E. coli is the most common bacterial pathogen in poultry. It is spread through fecal contamination of eggs, feed, and water. It is often the cause of secondary infection when the immune systems of birds in a flock are compromised due to another disease, especially mycoplasma.
Clinical signs of colibacillosis include the following:
- Low performance in older birds (due to tumors)
- High mortality in younger birds (due to yolk-sac infections)
- High embryonic mortality in breeder flocks
- Respiratory distress
Antibiotics can be used to treat infection.
PREVENTION AND CONTROL
A vaccine is available for breeders and layers. To prevent infection on your farm or ranch, purchase only mycoplasma-free stock from hatcheries registered with the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) registered hatcheries.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Overview of Colibacillosis in poultry. Merck Veterinary Manual.