What Kind Of Disease Is Blue Comb In Turkeys, What Are The Signs Of This Disease And What Re The Prevention And Treatment Of This Disease?


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Blue comb, a most costly disease of turkeys, affects birds of all ages. It is a highly infectious and fatal disease in newly hatched poult. Caused by a virus, blue comb becomes more complex and severe when bacterial infections are also involved. In larger turkeys, the disease may occur on range under stress conditions such as cold weather, damp weather and muddy ranges, hence the name "mud fever." It is spread through droppings and contamination of feeders and water.

Signs: In young poults, signs may be confused with those of hexamitiasis or trichomoniasis. Young poults appear chilled and may chirp constantly. Droppings vary in color from greenish to yellowish-brown, are quite watery and many contain segmented strings of mucus. Shanks are cold and veins are clearly visible. Mortality may be 25 to 50%, or even higher in young poults. A high percentage of deaths is from starvation. In growing and adult birds, blue comb appears suddenly. There is a rapid decline in feed and water consumption, and birds may go off feed completely early in the course of the disease. A greenish to brownish diarrhea is also noted in older birds. There is a rapid dehydration and loss of weight. Birds may show cholera-like signs such as dark heads, depression and sudden deaths. In older birds, mortality is usually much lower than in affected poults, however.

Prevention and Treatment: Good management practices that emphasize sanitation and avoid stresses are important to prevent the disease. The most satisfactory treatment of blue comb in either chickens or turkeys is antibiotics. Such medication will help maintain weight gains in the face of an outbreak. The birds may be treated through the feed or drinking water. Vitamins and electrolytes are also helpful during disease treatment.

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