Fact Sheet - Pullorum Disease and Fowl Typhoid

What are pullorum disease and fowl typhoid?

Pullorum disease is an infectious poultry disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella pullorum. The disease affects mainly young chicks and poults, but can also affect older chickens, game birds, guinea fowl, ostriches, parrots, peafowl, ring doves, sparrows and turkeys.

Fowl typhoid is an infectious poultry disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella gallinarum. The disease affects mainly mature or growing chickens, but has the ability to affect all chickens, ducks, grouse, guinea-fowl, peafowl, pheasants, quail and turkeys.

Are pullorum disease and fowl typhoid a risk to human health?

Both of these diseases are specific to birds and pose a low risk to human health.

However, Health Canada recommends proper handling and cooking of eggs and poultry meat to prevent all potential risks associated with viral or bacterial contaminants.

What are the clinical signs of pullorum disease and fowl typhoid?

The clinical signs of pullorum disease and fowl typhoid are very similar. Pullorum disease is generally a disease of young chicks and poults, while fowl typhoid is more predominant in growing and adult birds.

In young birds:

  • anorexia;
  • depression;
  • diarrhea;
  • dying or death (highest mortality rate in the first 2 weeks of life and in incubators); and
  • laboured breathing.

In growing and mature birds:

  • anorexia;
  • decreased egg production;
  • depression;
  • diarrhea;
  • high fever;
  • increased mortality (usually higher in chickens than turkeys); and
  • poor hatchability.

Where are pullorum disease and fowl typhoid found?

Canada has been considered free of pullorum disease and fowl typhoid since 1982. There have been isolated occurrences limited to small backyard flocks in Vancouver, B.C.

How are pullorum disease and fowl typhoid transmitted?

The most common ways for these diseases to spread is through contact with infected birds, and the transmission from hens to chicks through the egg. Game birds and backyard flocks may act as reservoirs for the infection.

These diseases can also spread via contaminated feed, water and litter, as well as through contaminated clothing, footwear, vehicles and equipment.

How are pullorum disease and fowl typhoid diagnosed?

Pullorum disease and fowl typhoid may be suspected based on the above clinical signs. Laboratory testing of blood and tissue samples from affected animals is necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

How are pullorum and fowl typhoid treated?

There are no treatments available for these diseases, but the best ways to protect flocks from these diseases are through the following:

  • keep poultry away from areas frequented by wild fowl;
  • keep strict control over access to poultry houses;
  • keep equipment cleaned and disinfected before taking it into poultry houses;
  • do not keep bird feeders or create duck ponds close to poultry barns as they attract wild birds; and
  • maintain high sanitation standards.

For avian biosecurity information please visit the CFIA’s website at: www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/biosec/aviafse.shtml

What is done to protect domestic poultry in Canada from pullorum disease and fowl typhoid?

Pullorum disease and fowl typhoid are “reportable diseases” under the Health of Animals Act. This means that all suspected cases must be reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for immediate investigation by inspectors.

How would the CFIA respond to an outbreak of pullorum disease and fowl typhoid?

Canada’s emergency response strategy to an outbreak of pullorum disease and/or fowl typhoid would be to:

  • eradicate the disease; and
  • re-establish Canada’s disease-free status as quickly as possible.

In an effort to eradicate pullorum disease and/or fowl typhoid, the CFIA would use its “stamping out” policy, which includes:

  • the humane destruction of all infected and exposed animals;
  • surveillance and tracing of potentially infected or exposed animals;
  • strict quarantine and animal movement controls to prevent spread;
  • strict decontamination of infected premises; and
  • zoning to define infected and disease-free areas.

Owners whose animals are ordered destroyed may be eligible for compensation.

Additional information

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