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ThePoultrySite Quick Disease Guide

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Contents of Quick Disease Guide

Spiking Mortality of Chickens

Extracted From:
A Pocket Guide to
Poultry Health
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By Paul McMullin
© 2004
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This is a condition characterised by a sudden increase in mortality in young, typically 7-14-day-old, rapidly growing broiler chickens. Birds in good condition die after showing neurological signs. Mortality drops off as sharply as it started. This appears to be a multifactorial condition. Feed intake, and/or carbohydrate absorption are disturbed resulting in a hypoglycaemia. Males are more susceptible than females, probably because they are growing faster. Filtered intestinal contents from affected flocks appear to be capable of reproducing the condition, suggesting a viral component. In order to reproduce the typical condition the affected birds are subject to 4 hours without feed and then a mild physical stress such as spraying with cool water.


  • Tremor.
  • Paralysis.
  • Coma.
  • Death.
  • Orange mucoid droppings.

Post-mortem lesions

  • Mild enteritis.
  • Excess fluid in lower small intestine and caecae.
  • Dehydration.


Pattern of mortality.
Signs and lesions.


Leave affected chicks undisturbed.
Provide multivitamins, electrolytes and glucose solution to flock.
Minimise stress.


Good sanitation of the brooding house.
Avoidance of interruptions in feed supply.
Avoidance of physical stress.

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