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Staphylococcosis, Staphylococcal Arthritis, Bumble Foot
Bumble foot is a common problem found in backyard flocks and most people think it is a wound that was infected without realizing that the entire bird has been infected with Staphylococcus bacteria. The bacteria is in the blood stream, not just in the knot on the bird’s foot. As the bacteria is present in barnyard environments most chickens can fend off the bacteria until a wound gets infected or the disease enters via the respiratory system. The disease can produce symptoms beyond a knot on a foot and can produce lame chickens and even kill the birds.
Signs are disheveled feathers, lameness, swollen hocks and feet, and sudden death in severe infections. Antibiotics will help in some cases that haven’t advanced to blood poisoning. To prevent the bacterial infection practice good hygiene, vaccinate the brood stock against reovirus infection, keep the flock’s stress levels down, and on a steady diet. Probiotics from products like yogurt can help reduce the numbers of the bad bacteria in the digestive system. There is no known effective vaccine but surviving birds are somewhat immune after an infection.