External Symptoms and Signs to Detect Poultry Diseases

A disease is defined as a state of deviation (of an animal) from normal state of health. Diagnosing a disease through observation of external symptoms such as eyes, nostrils, body posture, appetite etc is called ante-mortem. Below are various external symptoms which can be observed to diagnose a disease in poultry.


  • Emaciation - Off-feed; nutritional deficiencies; lymphoid leukosis;enteritis; gizzard impaction; tuberculosis
  • Stunted, uneven growth - Gizzard impaction; bluecomb disease; alfatoxin poisoning; synovitis; contaminated hatching egg
  • Swellings - Ruptured air sac; edema
  • Twitching, muscular spasm - Botulism; infectious bursal disease 
  • Trembling - Epidemic tremors; encephalitis (brain damage) 
  • Paralysis - Botulism; Marek's disease; arthritis; aflatoxin poisoning; epidemic tremor
  • Dehydration - Acute lack of water; coccidiosis; infectious bursal disease; nutritional imbalance-dietary salts
  • Nervousness - Hysteria; drug intoxication; Newcastle; fungus infection 
  • Lying on breast, legs paralyzed - Algae poisoning; acute lack of water; yellow jasmine poisoning; botulism; drug toxicity


  • Moist under wing - Infectious coryza 
  • Loss of feathers - Molting
  • Deposits at base of shafts - Lice or mite eggs 
  • Soiled hackle feathers - Infectious coryza, eye infection 
  • Feathers picked - Lice; nutritional deficiency-methionine; birds not debeaked 
  • Depigmented - Nutritional deficiencies-lysine, iron or folic acid 
  • Broken on upper thigh - Self picking 
  • Feather eating - Nutritional deficiency-methionine


  • Pigmentation excessive - Poor production; high pigment intake 
  • Nodules, mainly legs - Marek's disease 
  • Nodules over vent - Flukes (rare) 
  • Moist, necrotic, edematous - Necrotic dermatitis, exudative diathesis 
  • Darkened, purplish - Erysipelas; fowl cholera 
  • Crusted areas - Erysipelas; scab; gangrenous dermatitis 
  • Scabby hip - Self picking, inflicted by other birds 
  • Gangrenous, green - Hemmorhage; arthritis; gangrenous dermatitis 
  • Vent irritated - Northern fowl mite; lice (occasionally) 
  • Pale - Anemia; nutritional deficiencies-iron, copper, or vitamin

Image result for signs for poultry diseases             Image result for signs for poultry diseases


  • Swollen, puffy - Ruptured air sac; infectious coryza; injury; Newcastle disease

  • Mottled, red and white margins - Frozen 
  • Eruptions, nodules - Fowl pox 
  • White, scaly, powdery - Favus


  • Watery - Infectious coryza 
  • Blindness - Fowl pox; aspergillosis; Arizona paracolon; paratyphoid 
  • Watery, red, inflamed, closed - Laryngotracheitis; ammonia burn; Newcastle disease;


  •  Cataracts - Epidemic tremor 
  • Crusts on eye lids - Nutritional deficiency-vitamin A; fowl pox 
  • Pupil irregular, blindness - Marek's disease 
  • Blood in eye - Hemorrhagic anemia 
  • Large, swollen - Mycoplasma infection


  • Swollen - Infectious coryza; Newcastle disease; nutritional deficiency-vitamin A; E. coli 
  • Darkened, purplish - Erysipelas; fowl cholera; septicemia; injury 
  • Nodules - Fowl pox


  • Discharge - Infectious coryza; chronic respiratory disease; infectious bronchitis; influenza


  • Pustules - Nutritional deficiency - vitamin A 
  • Crusts at margins - Nutritional deficiencies - pantothenic acid or biotin 
  • Beak soft, rubbery - Nutritional deficiencies - vitamin D or calcium-phosphorus imbalances 
  • White coat over tongue and in mouth - Wet form of fowl pox 
  • Ulcers - Mycotoxins; chemical injury


  • Swollen, bulbous - Infectious coryza; fowl cholera 
  • Nodules - Fowl pox


  • Paralysis (limber neck) - Botulism; yellow jasmine poisoning 
  • Twisting - Newcastle disease; fowl cholera; brain infection; improper injection of Marek's vaccine 
  • Retracted over back - Newcastle disease; nutritional deficiency-thiamin 
  • Retracted under breast - Nutritional deficency-vitamin E; Newcastle disease 
  • Scabby necrotic areas - Improper injection of drugs; other injury


  • Paralysis - Marek's disease; botulism; heat stoke; epidemic tremor; cage layer fatigue; vitamin E deficiency algae poisoning; yellow jasmine poisoning; acute lack of water  
  • Rough, scaly - Fowl pox; scaly leg mite 
  • Bowed, weak - Nutritional deficiency-vitamin D; osteodystrophy 
  • Bone bends - Nutritional deficiency-vitamin D 
  • Joint swelling - Infectious synovitis; paratyphoid; pullorum; zinc deficiency; staphylococcosis; tenosynovitis; arthritis 
  • Tendon at hock displaced - Perosis (nutritional deficiency-manganese or choline) 
  • Stilted gait - Tenosynovitis 
  • Shank depigmented - Nutritional deficiency-vitamin A; coccidiosis; any low grade slow disease (for any length of time) 
  • Toes twisted - Genetic


  • Joints fixed - Tenosynovitis 
  • Swollen foot pad - Infectious synovitis; bumblefoot 
  • Toes curled - Nutritional deficiency-riboflavin; genetic; management deficiency 
  • Foot pad cracked, dermatitis - Nutritional deficiency-biotin or pantothenic acid; management deficiency 
  • Bird walks on toes - Tenosynovitis


  • Profuse - Enteritis; excess roughage in diet 
  • Bloody - Cecal coccidiosis; Newcastle disease 
  • Green - Feed intake low; bile not diluted 
  • Sulfur yellow - Blackhead 
  • Light yellow or yellowishgreen - Fowl typhoid; fowl cholera 
  • Foamy - Intestinal parasites (protozoa)


  • Sudden severe drop - Newcastle disease; infectious bronchitis; laryngotracheitis; influenza-A, mycotoxin, mismanagement (no lights, feed, or water) 
  • Unsatisfactory - Infectious coryza; fowl cholera; chronic respiratory diseases; diet deficiencies; gizzard impaction; fowl pox; hepatitis; lice; mites; ascarids; capillaria; lymphoid leukosis; coccidiosis; enteritis; pullorum; fowl typhoid; aflatoxicosis; adenovirus infection; toxins 
  • Egg wrinkled, depigmented - Necrotic enteritis; infectious bronchitis 
  • Production pause - Epidemic tremor 
  • Poor shell quality - Newcastle disease; infectious bronchitis; adenovirus infection; diet deficiency; T-2 fusariotoxin


  • Instant, few or no prior signs - Aortic rupture; acute lack of water; fowl cholera; overheated, fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome 
  • High mortality-producing diseases - Fowl cholera; erysipelas; exotic Newcastle disease; acute coccidiosis; aflatoxin; botulism; poison; fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome

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