Duck septicemia is a highly contagious bacterial illness that may cause a wide range of symptoms, or no symptoms at all.
Duck septicemia may also be referred to as New Duck disease. It is caused by the bacteria Riemerella anatipestifer. Septicemia can be very difficult to detect since some ducks can carry the bacteria and show no symptoms of being ill, but then unexpectedly die. Symptoms may be a combination of respiratory, neurologic, and intestinal:
- Greenish diarrhea
- Nasal discharge
- Head bobbing or twisting
- Inability to walk
The bacteria is spread through respiratory droplets, through breaks in the skin (especially on the feet), and from bird to bird via direct contact. Less commonly, the bacteria can be spread thru droppings in feed and contaminated water. Duck septicemia is more dangerous in young ducklings under about 5 weeks of age. Adult ducks can be infected and show no symptoms.
If you suspect that your ducks may have this disease, contact your avian veterinarian or University Extension immediately. Since it is a bacteria, antibiotics are helpful in fighting it, but time is of the essence.
Maintain strict biosecurity and quarantine protocols when bringing in new ducks to prevent the spread of this illness. Do not overcrowd your ducks and maintain excellent sanitation in the duck pen and swimming water.
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