Emergencies/Illness Health Issues

Infectious Bursal Disease

Infectious Bursal Disease (also known as Gumboro) is an acute, highly contagious virus that affects the immune systems of chickens under four months old. The virus involves massive destruction of B cells in lymphoid organs, resulting in immunosuppression and secondary infections.

IBDV primarily targets the bursa of Fabricius, an organ that is critical to a chicken’s immune system. Post-recovery impacts include damage to the bursa, which makes infected chickens more vulnerable to future respiratory and gastrointestinal infections and other pathogens (e.g. E. coli, Salmonella, Mycoplasma, Coccidiosis, Infectious Bronchitis and Marek’s Disease).


  • Most common in chicks 3-6 weeks old. Chicks under 3 weeks of age can become infected, but tend not to show symptoms until a few weeks later.
  • Sudden onset with high number of affected chicks
  • Pasty butt
  • Bloody poop
  • Vent picking
  • Lethargy, depression
  • Loss of appetite  
  • Reduced water intake
  • Huddling
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Difficulty standing
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of coordination
  • Trembling
  • Weakness
  • 20-30% morbidity within 3 days
  • 70-80% will recover within 5-7 days


  • Fecal- oral exposure
  • Direct and indirect contact with infected bird
  • IBD virus is shed in poop of infected chicks and can survive in the environment for several months.
  • Recovered birds do not become carriers


  • Supportive care
  • Poultry vitamins
  • Antibiotics may be required for secondary bacterial infections


Credits: NCBI, Poultry DVM, Science Direct, Washington State University

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