Infectious coryza is a specific respiratory disease in chickens that occurs most often in semi-mature or adult birds. Infection may result in a slow-spreading, chronic disease that affects only a small number of birds at one time, or in a rapid spreading disease with a higher percentage of birds being affected. The occurrence of infectious coryza is not widespread and the incidence is relatively low.
The disease is caused by a bacterium known as Hemophilus gallinarum. Outbreaks usually result from the introduction of infected or carrier birds into a flock. Transmission of the infection occurs by direct contact, airborne infection by dust or respiratory discharge droplets and drinking water contaminated by infective nasal exudate. Susceptible birds usually develop symptoms within three days after exposure to the disease. Recovered individuals may appear normal but remain carriers of the organism for long periods. Once a flock is infected, all birds must be considered as carriers.
The most characteristic symptoms of infectious coryza include edematous swelling of the face around the eyes and wattles, nasal discharge and swollen sinuses. Watery discharge from the eyes frequently results in the lids adhering together. Vision may be affected because of the swelling. The disease results in a decrease in feed and water consumption and an increase in the number of cull birds. An adverse effect on egg production usually occurs in proportion to the number of affected birds.
Diagnosis can be confirmed only by isolation and identification of the causative organism. The organism, Hemophilus gallinarum, is extremely fastidious and often difficult to isolate.
Prevention is the only sound approach in controlling infectious coryza. It usually can be prevented by management programs that eliminate contact between susceptible and infected birds. It requires only separating affected or carrier birds from the susceptible population. In order to prevent the infection, introduce started or adult birds only from sources known to be free of the infection. If infection occurs, complete depopulation followed by thorough cleaning/disinfecting is the only means for eliminating the disease.
A number of drugs are effective for treating the symptoms of the disease although the disease is never completely eliminated. Sulfadimethoxine or sulfathiazole in the feed or water or erythromycin administered in the drinking water can reduce the symptoms of this disease.