What Poultry Farmers Need to Know About Avian Coryza

Avian Coryza, or Infectious Coryza, is affecting poultry farmers in regions around the country. Much like the Avian Flu epidemic that caused the destruction of many flocks years ago, Avian Coryza is starting to cause similar consequences as it continues to emerge in some regions of the United States. It’s important to stay informed about emerging diseases and dangers in order to protect your flock and your farm. Avian Coryza could be a potential danger to your flock and your poultry farm, but you can be protected financially against the disease. Here’s what poultry farmers need to know about Avian Coryza and how you can protect yourself:

What is Avian Coryza?

Avian Coryza is the name given to a poultry respiratory disease that is emerging in a few regions of the United States. It is also called “Infectious Coryza” and is classified as an “acute respiratory infection” that affects chickens.

It is caused by a bacteria called Avibacterium paragallinarum and is a Gram-negative, non-motile type of bacteria. You may also see the bacteria called Haemophilus paragallinarum, which is its former name. There are three serotypes, or strains, that are classified as A, B, and C. If you need to immunize birds against Avian Coryza, these serotypes are important.

This disease is more common in mature birds, but can occur in birds of any age and tends to occur especially during times of stress. It is not uncommon for infections to occur around peak production times or shortly after relocation to new cages. In experimental inoculations, the incubation time of this disease is about 24-48 hours, which is short. In field conditions, it’s estimated that incubation may take an additional 24 hours, which brings its incubation time to 48-72 hours. It usually takes about 2 weeks for this disease to run its course.

Avian Coryza is not zoonotic, which means it does not pass from chickens to humans. There is also no risk to human health if eggs or meat from contaminated birds is consumed. Although it is sometimes referred to as Infectious Coryza, it is only infectious and able to spread to other birds.

Signs of Avian Coryza

When something is going on with your flock or specific chickens, it can sometimes be hard to pin down the cause. With Avian Coryza, there are a few major things to look for:

Facial Edema

Severe swelling in areas of the face, or severe facial edema, is the most noticeable clinical sign of Avian Coryza. Conjunctivitis and other eye issues, including ocular discharge, may also be present as side effects of the facial swelling. The wattles of affected chickens may also be swollen or inflamed.

Common Cold Symptoms

Because Avian Coryza is an upper respiratory disease, you may also notice affected chickens exhibiting common cold symptoms. They may be coughing and sneezing and showing signs of nasal discharge.

Decreased Egg Production

In laying hens, facial swelling and cold-like symptoms are also often coupled with a sharp and significant decrease in egg production. If you notice some of your hens are producing significantly fewer eggs than normal or have stopped laying and they have large swollen areas on their faces, they may have Avian Coryza. You may notice their feed intake has decreased as well.

How Can I Protect My Flock from Infectious Coryza?

Although the disease tends to run about 2 weeks and birds tend to recover from it, they can also still harbor the disease for a long time, or, in some cases, permanently. This means chickens that have had Avian Coryza can still infect other members and new members of the flock even if they are no longer exhibiting symptoms. Aerosols, contaminated feed or water, and even equipment can also transport and spread infective bacteria.

The disease can be treated with several antibiotics, which can be administered through feed and water. Tetracyclines are the most common antibiotics used for treatment. If the disease is not widespread, you may be able to use depopulation to lower the risk of spreading the disease.

If depopulation is not an option, quarantine the affected flock, whether they are recovered or are actively sick, and avoid bringing any new birds or replacement birds on the premises. Once the affected flock is removed, thoroughly clean and disinfect everything and implement a 3-week waiting period, at least, before repopulating your flock.

If you are located in a region where Avian Coryza has become widespread, there are vaccines available and you will want to enlist the help of a professional to get the right one. It must match serotype A and should be given several weeks before the birds are moved into a high-risk location and well before the onset of lay.

How Can I Protect Myself Against Financial Loss?

Can you protect yourself against financial loss due to the destruction of the birds if you own your flock or loss of income if you are a contract grower? The answer is a resounding YES!

There is an insurance product that provides coverage for loss of birds and the subsequent loss of income if, in fact, your facility and flock become contaminated. Your downtime will probably be a minimum of three (3) weeks and would extend beyond that depending on the availability of replacement birds. The specter of a geographic quarantine may also generate a cash flow crunch.

Having insurance for protection is an answer to the financial stress an outbreak like this could cause. It provides a cash stream that can cover variable costs related to the vet, medications, etc. Fixed costs, such as utilities, membership fees, mortgage payments, labor, insurance, and other on-going expenses, may be reimbursed as well.

With the potential for a major interruption in a grower’s cash flow, insurance protection for this type of event may be vital to the survival of the farm. Ruhl Insurance has an option that can protect you and your assets against this threat. Contact us today at 717-665-2283 or 1-800-537-6880 for more information!

Disclaimer: Information and claims presented in this content are meant for informative, illustrative purposes and should not be considered legally binding.