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Staphylococcus Infection

Staph Infection, Staph Septicemia, Staph Arthritis, Bumblefoot

Staphylococcus infections are common in poultry worldwide. The genus Staphylococcus is composed of over 36 species and 21 subspecies that are normal inhabitants of the skin, mucous membranes and nares of healthy birds. However some species have the potential to cause disease if it enters the body of the bird, through a wound, inflammation, trimming of toe nails or beak, minor surgical procedures, parenteral vaccinations, or concurrent chronic infection causing a defense impairment of the immune system.

The symptoms vary depending on the site of the infection in the bird. The most frequent locations include the bottom footpad of ducks' feet (manifesting as a complication of bumblefoot), bones, tendon sheaths, and joints. conditions often associated with Staphylococcus spp include:
  • Bumblefoot: Most often seen in adult ducks and affects their feet.
  • Arthritis/Synovitis: Affects the duck's joints. It affects ducks of all ages, however it is most frequently seen in older birds.
  • Osteomyelitis/Periostitis: Affects the duck's bone; affects ducks of all ages, however it is most common in older ducks.
  • Acute septicaemia: A disease that affects the blood; it is most often seen in older ducks but can affect ducks of any age.
  • Cutaneous necrosis: A disease that is seen most frequently in young ducks, affecting their skin.

A breakdown in the natural defense mechanism must occur for S. aureus to gain entry into ducks. This is usually through a skin wound, inflamed mucous membrane or hematogenous dissemination where a locus of infection is established. It can also occur due to a defense impairment following viral infections.

Incubation period
S. aureus infection has a short incubation period, with ducklings showing signs usually within 48-72 hours.


Ruffled feathers
Drooping wings
Reluctance to walk
Loss of appetite
Swollen joints
Decreased egg production


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Bacterial culture
  • Quantitative PCR


MethodMethod Summary
Local treatment of skin lesions

Reported Cases

  • Case 1: Vegetative endocarditis caused by Staphylococcus aureus in a Cockatoo A 15-year-old, female cockatoo was presented with a history of intermittent cloacal prolapse of 1-year duration. After each prolapse, the owner would digitally reduce the distended cloacal tissue within approximately 12–24 hours, for short-term resolution. The cockatoo was examined 3 times over a 7-month period and received supportive care with leuprolide acetate, behavioral modification, and diet change. After the third examination, the owner decided to proceed with a surgical cloacopexy. Five days after the last examination and before the procedure was scheduled, the cockatoo was reexamined for acute onset of weakness, anorexia, lethargy, and right-leg paresis. Despite supportive treatment, the cockatoo's clinical condition declined, and it went into respiratory arrest. Resuscitative efforts, including manual ventilation and cardiovascular support, were unsuccessful, and the bird died. Results of postmortem examination revealed vegetative endocarditis with intralesional bacteria cultured as Staphylococcus aureus, right-hindlimb myonecrosis, hepatitis, and nephritis. Ref


  • Provide a balanced nutritional diet
  • Promptly and correctly attend to and treat any wounds
  • Decrease risk of injury by eliminating birds' access to sharp surfaces or objects
  • Practice good sanitary practices and regularly change bedding litter
  • Always disinfect or fumigate incubators and brooders following each use
  • Keep stress level down in birds


Risk Factors

  • Dirty, unsanitary living conditions
  • History of recent wound
  • Concurrent infection or illness
  • Stress
  • Unbalanced diet