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Salmonella Infection, Keel Disease, Paratyphoid Infection, Paratyphoid, White Diarrhea

Salmonellosis is an infectious bacterial disease caused by bacteria of the Salmonella genus. Salmonella can infect a wide range of animal species, as well as humans. Infection with Salmonella most commonly manifests as a gastrointestinal disease, but can also present itself as acute septicemia, arthritis, or as a respiratory disease. Many times, ducks can become infected without showing clinical signs of illness, however they can still shed the bacteria either continuously or intermittently in their feces, leading to increased risk of infection of other flock members, including humans and other domestic animals.

Salmonellosis can usually resolve itself without treatment 5-7 days after infection unless the bird becomes severely dehydrated or if the infection spreads.

Outbreaks in backyard flocks are usually associated with contaminated feeders or exposures to wild bird feces, or housing mixed species of birds. Carrier birds can persist in the flock and continue to infect the flock due to their intermittent shedding, especially during periods of stress.


Sudden collapse
Ruffled feathers
Dry sunken eyes


  • History
  • Clinical Signs
  • Physical exam
  • Salmonella culture
  • Real time PCR
  • Tube Agglutination


MethodMethod Summary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own duck "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
AntibioticsSpecific, based on bird's individual sensitivity
ProbioticsAdministered in the form of oral supplements or yogurt

Reported Cases

  • Case 1: Salmonellosis in a Chicks The presence of Salmonella was investigated in transport boxes of newly hatched chicks in the moment they were received in the farms. 1,611 boxes, delivered to 15 farms (one broiler grand-parent farm, four broiler parent farms, two commercial broiler chick farms and seven laying hens farms) were tested. A total of 19 visits to these farms were done, and Salmonella was detected in ten of these visits. Salmonella Heidelberg was detected in boxes in five farms. S. Heidelberg and S. Mbandaka were simultaneously detected in one broiler breeder farm. Salmonella Enteritidis alone, S. Enteritidis and S. Mbandaka and S. Cerro alone were detected in three, one and one laying hens farms, respectively. Ref

  • Case 2: Salmonellosis in a Chickens A Salmonella typhimurium outbreak in 1-to-2-week-old broiler flocks in Mexico is reported. Clinical signs were growth retardation, blindness, twisted necks, and lameness. Gross lesions consisted of hypopyon, panophthalmitis, hepatomegaly with necrotic foci, enlarged spleen, pericarditis, coagulated and unabsorbed yolks, and purulent arthritis. Mortality and cull rates in different flocks ranged from 1.7% to 10.6% during the first two weeks of age. All internal organs, eyes, and hock joints of diseased chickens that were cultured were Salmonella-positive. The bacteria were also isolated from the breeder source flock. Disease was thought to be transmitted through eggs at hatch. Ref

  • Case 3: Salmonellosis in a Chicks Fifty-three carcasses of 2-weeks old pullets were presented at the poultry and fish clinic of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, University of Jos, Nigeria for investigation. There was persistent mortality despite 5 days medication with 20% Enrofloxacin (Floxinor®). Cumulative mortality within 14 days was 203 birds in a flock of 4,000. Necropsy was done and harvested were subjected to microbial analysis for bacterial isolation, identification and antibiotic susceptibility test while portions of these organs were preserved in 10% formalin for histopathology. Necropsy findings were empty crops, hepatitis with petechial hemorrhages, nephritis, congested and consolidated lungs, peritonitis, congested spleens and mild enteritis. Histologically, there were vacuolation and necrosis of renal tubular epithelia cells and interstitial infiltration with heterophils. Severe disorganization of hepatic cords, infiltration with inflammatory cells and mild necrosis of hepatocytes were observed, while there was severe congestion and diffuse hemorrhages in the lungs. Cellular infiltration within the lamina propria of small intestine with stunting and blunting of the villi were observed. Organism isolated on MacConkey agar was identified as Salmonella Enteritidis. Antibiotic susceptibility test showed the organism to be most susceptible to Streptomycin, which was administered via drinking water at dosage of 40mg/kg with good recovery of the flock. It was concluded that the occurrence of Salmonella Enteritidis infection in this flock might be from the hatchery or via ingestion of contaminated feed and water. Day old chicks should be screened for Salmonella infection and strict biosecurity should be instituted on poultry farms. Ref

  • Case 4: Salmonellosis in a Chicken Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) was isolated from a rooster submitted to CAHFS with digestive tract inflammation. Two weeks earlier, the rooster had been abandoned in a park which also contained other abandoned chickens. A neighbor with chickens, pigeons and pets took in the bird for nursing care after observing it with lethargy, diarrhea and fever. On a separate premise, Salmonella Enteritidis was isolated from seven, 15-day-old chickens submitted from a community farm where 100 of the 300 chickens purchased from a hatchery had died. Ref

  • Case 5: Salmonellosis in a Chickens Salmonella enteritidis was detected in a fecal pool and the livers of three of four pasture raised Cornish cross chicks experiencing increased mortality. Gross postmortem and histology revealed hepaitis and yolk sac infections in four and two birds, respectively, and one chick had brain and lung involvement. Ref

  • Case 6: Salmonellosis in a Chickens A severe outbreak of salmonellosis in commercial brown table egg layers first occurred in Colombia in 2006. From 2008 to 2012, 35 samples collected from commercial layers farms in the states of Cundinamarca, Santander, Bolivar, and San Andres, were positive for Salmonella enterica. Salmonella was isolated from liver and spleen (71.42%), pools of organs (liver, spleen, and ovarian follicles; 25.71%), and drag swabs (2.85%). Serotype was assigned using single nucleotide polymorphisms or DNA microarray hybridization. Sixteen strains of Salmonella Enteritidis, and 13 of Salmonella Gallinarum were identified. Seven strains yielded three unique sequences, and they were designated as UN0038, UN0052, and UN0054 by intergenic sequence ribotyping. These strains were later identified as Salmonella serotypes Isangi, Braenderup, and Yoruba, respectively, by DNA microarray hybridization. The discovery that a common human pathogen (Salmonella Enteritidis) was coisolated from farms with an avian pathogen (Salmonella Gallinarum) in similar commercial brown layer hens and in different regions indicates that it is important to investigate the dynamics of Salmonella infection and determine the serotypes circulating within the same ecologic niche. Ref

  • Case 7: Salmonellosis in a Cockatoo Two fatal cases of Salmonella Typhimurium phage type DT160 infection occurred in Moluccan cockatoos from a zoological collection in Italy. No previous clinical signs were observed in birds before death, except for anorexia and mild diarrhea in one bird. At post mortem, necrotic foci surrounded by a hyperemic halo were observed in lungs, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, and intestine. Microscopically, heterophils and macrophages with rare lymphocyte infiltration associated with gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria aggregates were detected in necrotic foci. Bacteriology confirmed the presence of Salmonella Typhimurium phage type DT160 in the tissues of birds. The source of Salmonella Typhimurium in these birds remains unknown, but the authors emphasize the need to better control Salmonella infections in these avian species because they are important zoonotic agents and responsible for disease in animals and humans. This is the first documentation of Salmonella Typhimurium phage type DT160 infection in Moluccan cockatoos. Ref

  • Case 8: Systemic salmonellosis in a Finches Systemic salmonellosis was diagnosed as the cause of death in pine siskins from three counties between November and February. Nine wild pine siskins from Santa Clara, San Mateo and Marin counties were submitted to CAHFS for necropsy. In six of the nine birds Salmonella typhimurium was isolated from various sites; these birds presented with esophagitis, head/neck cellulitis and systemic lesions suggestive of septicemia. Ref

  • Case 9: Salmonellosis in a Pigeon Salmonellosis due to S. Typhimurium was diagnosed in two separate pigeon losses. One loft had increased mortality and the other had a pigeon submitted with neurological signs. The later had pale yellow foci in the cerebral cortex, enlarged cerebellum and cloudy meninges. Both birds had hepatitis and the neurologic bird also had meningoencephalomyelitis, osteomyelitis, otitis interna, pneumonia, splenitis, nephritis and iridocyclitis. Salmonella Typhimurium was isolated from the liver of both birds and brain and intestine of the neurologic one. Ref

  • Case 10: Salmonellosis in a Chicks Salmonella Zega isolated from natural outbreaks that were characterized by high mortality in poultry farms in three Southwestern States of Nigeria was used to inoculate two week-old chicks through different routes in order to determine and compare the clinical signs, pathological and immunohistochemical changes in each route of infection. The birds were divided into 4 groups of 25 each as groups A (orally inoculated), B (intraperitoneally inoculated), C (inoculated per cloaca) and D (uninoculated control). All the birds were inoculated with 0.2ml of 1×108 cfu of the bacteria. Clinical signs were observed and recorded according to the route of infection, and with the days post-infection from day 0 till day 10 post-infection. Two birds from each group were sacrificed every 24h and examined for gross lesions, which were described and scored according to the route of infection and days post-infection. Samples of visceral organs were collected for bacteriology, histopathology and immunohistochemistry. Clinical signs in chicks infected orally and intraperitoneally were weakness, anoraexia lethargy, somnolescence, yellowish diarrhoea observed from 4 days till day 10 post infections. Mild sign of weakness was observed in chickes infected per cloaca, from day 3 to 7. The gross lesions were congestion, oedema and enlargement and necrosis in visceral organs from day 4 to 10 post infection in orally and intraperitoneally infected chicks, but mild vascular changes were observed in chicks infected per cloaca, except in the caecum were lesions of necrosis and infiltration of inflammatory cells were moderate to severe. Microscopic lesions were necrosis of host cells and infiltration by lymphocytes, heterophils and macrophages in multiple organs observed from day 4 to 10 post infection in orally and intraperitoneally infected chicks. Immunoreactions were observed in all the visceral organs examined. Clinical signs, pathological and immunohistochemical findings were mild in chicks infected per cloaca, except caecal lesions. Salmonella Zega isolated from an outbreak in poultry farms in Abeokuta, Nigeria was highly pathogenic in chicken and produced similar findings in oral and intraperitoneal infections; while per cloacal infection showed a localized infection of the caecum. Ref


  • Minimize or eliminate wild rodent populations near where ducks are kept
  • Ensure feeders and waterers are protected from potential contamination by wild bird feces
  • Reduce biting fly populations


Age Range

Young chicks or immune-compromised adult ducks are most susceptible.

Risk Factors

  • Presence of rodents
  • High populations of biting flying insects
  • Wild bird feces regularly accessed by ducks