Cholera can come on suddenly. It is bacterial, Pasteurella multocida, highly contagious, and will affect chickens, turkeys, and water fowl. The incubation rate is around five to eight days. Mortality rate can be as high as 100%. The disease is spread through nasal contact, feces, contaminated soil, equipment, or people.
The bacteria can be destroyed using disinfectants but is very difficult to eradicate from the soil. Rodents, cats, wild birds, even pigs can carry fowl cholera. Once again we see the importance of keeping rats and mice at bay by using a rat proof treadle feeder. Crowded conditions and other respiratory diseases will predispose birds to catching cholera.
Sulphonamides, tetracyclines, erythromycin, streptomycin, and penicillin will treat the infection but long term medication is required along with a thorough cleaning and disinfection of the coop and surrounding area. Keeping biosecurity tight, good rodent control, and hygiene helps prevent the disease. There are vaccines available for six week old birds and bacterins should be given at eight and twelve weeks. While Fowl Cholera isn’t the horror it is in human epidemics it is something to work at keeping at bay through biosecurity including the elimination of rats, mice, squirrels and wild birds.