Two Respiratory Diseases Common to Ducks

Mallard duck

Mallard duck

There are different common diseases that affect the respiratory system of ducks. However, with modern systems of management, and the proper observation of the signs and symptoms, one can easily avoid the spread of these diseases.


Ducks of all ages and breed are susceptible to duck pox. There are two forms of duck pox. The dry form is distinguished by raised, wart-like bruises on the skin devoid of feathers. The bruises commonly heal in about two weeks. If the bruises are removed before total rejuvenation, the surface beneath would be rare and bleeding. Retarded growth is the usual symptoms of duck pox. In duck hens, infection results in a temporary waning of egg production.

The other form is the wet form. In this type, blight-like lesions near the bill can be observed. This can cause a respiratory distress by blocking the upper air pathways. A duck may be affected with either form at the same time.

Fowl pox can be transmitted through direct contact between infected and vulnerable birds or by carriers such as mosquitoes. Virus-carrying lesions also can be transmitted from infected birds and serve as a source of contamination. The virus can invade the bloodstream through the body openings such as eyes, ears and skin wounds, or respiratory passages.

There are some evidences that the mosquito remains infective over time. These insects are the primary carriers of the fowl pox on the ducks. Several species of mosquitoes can transmit fowl pox. Often mosquitoes winter-over in duck pens, and widespread contamination can happen during the cold season and early spring.

There is no known treatment for fowl pox. However, it is quite slow-infecting. Hence, it is possible to administer vaccination to stop a wide contamination. The wing-web vaccination treatment is normally administered and the thigh-stick technique is used for ducks older than 2 months.

Fowl pox in ducks confined in pens can be prevented by using a mosquito repellant spray. However, if the disease is endemic, that is common, in the area, a vaccination is suggested. Never vaccinate unless the disease is a wide problem in a large farm or in the area.


The Newcastle disease is also known as pneumoencephalitis. The viscerotropic type is a highly contagious and fatal form of this disease. This disease can affect all ages of ducks. Humans and other mammals are also vulnerable to this disease, but in form of mild conjunctivitis.

Basically, there are three forms of this disease: lentogenic, mesogenic, and velogenic. This disease is distinguished by an immediate onset of symptoms that includes hoarse quaking, mucus discharge from the nose, difficulty in breathing, inflammation if the face, immobility, trembling and involuntary twisting of the neck (as a sign of invasion in the central nervous system, where motion impulses are sent from the brain and vice versa). Fatal incidences vary from 10 to 80 percent based on the severity of infection.

In mature duck layers, signs and symptoms can include lower food and water consumption and a significant reduction of egg laying. This disease can be transmitted by direct contact or by airborne ways.


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