Emergencies/Illness Health Issues

Sinusitis In Chickens

Just like with people, chickens can get sinusitis: a sinus infection creating inflammation of the air cavities in the passages of their nostrils, which in birds are called nares. When your chicken has a sinus infection they can’t blow their nose. Instead, the normally hollow areas may become filled with mucus, pus, abscessed material, cellular debris and liquid which are unable to drain. The inflammation in the sinus located close to a chicken’s eyes, often causes facial swelling and the onset of conjunctivitis.

The following diseases can cause sinusitis in chickens:

Avian Influenza: Avian influenza (AI) is a highly contagious reportable disease of poultry that most commonly affects commercial chicken farms. Symptoms vary from a mild infection: loss of appetite, deceased egg production, mild respiratory disease, and diarrhea to severe respiratory, neurological, and gastrointestinal signs with high mortality rates.

Avian Influenza
Avian Influenza

Fowl Cholera (FC): also known as Avian Pasteurellosis, is a contagious bacterial disease that affects domesticated and wild birds worldwide. FC usually appears as an acute, septicemic disease but it can also occur as a chronic disease. Mature chickens are more susceptible than young ones, and turkeys are more susceptible than chickens. Chickens less than 16 weeks of age generally are quite resistant.

Complications with severe chronic sinusitis include: accumulation of mucus and pus, which turn into cheesy necrotic debris, becoming so bulging that the increased pressure causes damage to the nares and nasal cavity of the chicken. Chickens are at an increased risk of developing ‘sunken eye’, in which the globe of eye retreats into its socket. This gives the appearance of the chicken ‘losing its eye’, and usually just involves one eye, but it can occur in both eyes.

Fowl Cholera
Fowl Cholera (Credit: Cornell U.)

Infectious Coryza: an acute upper respiratory disease of chickens, most often transmitted to flocks by introducing a new chicken or reintroducing of existing flock member that recently attended an event, which included other poultry.

Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT): an acute respiratory tract infection of chickens; strains vary in virulence from highly infectious and usually fatal to low virulent strains that cause mild to asymptomatic infections.

Infectious Laryngotracheitis
Infectious Laryngotracheitis

Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG): one of the major pathogens that cause respiratory disease in poultry. It tends to develop slowly in flocks and associated with progressive and chronic respiratory signs. Symptoms of chronic respiratory disease include mild tracheitis, sinusitis, airsacculitis and conjunctivitis.

Mycoplasma Gallisepticum

Swollen Head Syndrome: acute, highly contagious upper respiratory tract infection. Symptoms: swelling of the sinuses, particularly around the eye and mild conjunctivitis.

Swollen Head Syndrome
Swollen Head Syndrome

Featured photo: Sunshine. Used with permission Chastity Ayers.

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