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Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens 

Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens

Did you know that the coronavirus also affects chickens?

Infectious bronchitis virus, often called IBV for simplicity, belongs to the same coronavirus strain that mostly affects poultry.

It is highly contagious and will cause your flock many issues if infected.

The good news is that there is a vaccine for IBV, though most backyard chicken keepers will not have as easy access to it. Because of this, prevention is essential.

In this blog, we’ll share everything you need about infectious bronchitis in chickens.

Symptoms of Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens

Infectious bronchitis is a highly contagious viral respiratory disease that affects chickens.

The symptoms can vary depending on the infection’s severity and the birds’ age and health.

Here are some common symptoms of infectious bronchitis in chickens.

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rattling or crackling sounds during breathing, called tracheal rales
  • Watery eyes
  • Nasal discharge (usually green or yellow)
  • Decreased or halted egg production
  • Poor egg quality–soft or misshapen eggs are more common
  • Lethargy
  • Depression, isolation, not leaving the roost
  • Huddling up together
  • Lack of appetite, reduced feed intake
  • Young chickens may grow considerably slower with little weight gain
  • Drinking noticeably more water (This is due to the virus affecting the kidneys. Chickens don’t pee, but their stool will be more watery as a result.

sick chicken

What Causes Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens?

Infectious bronchitis in chickens is caused by the infectious bronchitis virus, which belongs to the Coronaviridae family.

The virus primarily affects chickens’ respiratory and reproductive systems, causing a range of symptoms and negatively impacting egg production.

The infectious bronchitis virus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly among chickens.

The virus is primarily transmitted through respiratory secretions and excretions, including nasal discharge, saliva, and feces.

Chickens can become infected by direct contact with other infected birds.

This includes nose-to-nose (or beak-to-beak, I should say) contact, shared feeding and watering equipment, and close proximity in crowded conditions.

The virus can be spread through the air, especially in enclosed environments.

Respiratory droplets containing the virus can be released when infected birds cough or sneeze; healthy birds can inhale these droplets.

The virus can be transmitted from infected hens to their offspring through the egg.

This can result in chicks being infected from the moment of hatching.

Lastly, and most unfortunately, inanimate objects like equipment, clothing, and shoes can become contaminated with the virus.

If these contaminated items come into contact with healthy birds, they can serve as a source of transmission.

This is a major issue because it’s easy for the virus to pass from farm to farm.

Most large hatcheries and chicken farms have biosecurity protocols such as mandatory gloves, plastic shoe slippers, or aprons for visitors.

You can implement these methods, too, or keep your visitors away from the chickens altogether.

This is only effective if your chickens are confined to a fenced-in area, not free-ranged.

Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens

How to Treat Infectious Bronchitis?

Treatment for infectious bronchitis in chickens focuses on supportive care.

There is no specific antiviral treatment for infectious bronchitis.

Once again, prevention is key.

Preventive measures should be a priority in the first place to minimize the impact of the disease.

Supportive care involves maintaining a clean and comfortable environment for affected birds, ensuring good ventilation, and keeping them warm to reduce respiratory stress.

Providing access to clean and fresh water, along with a balanced and complete diet, supports the overall health of the birds.

If you need a guide on how to keep your chickens and their coop clean and safe, you might want to check out these articles:

Isolating infected birds from the rest of the flock is essential to prevent the spread of the virus.

Additionally, quarantining newly introduced birds helps prevent the introduction of the virus into the flock.

Strict biosecurity protocols, including disinfection of equipment, clothing, and footwear, are crucial to minimize the risk of disease transmission.

Vaccination is an important tool for preventing and controlling infectious bronchitis, but its effectiveness depends on the specific strain of the virus.

Infectious Bronchitis In Chickens

Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens: FAQ

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about chicken bronchitis, plus our answers.

Can People Get Bronchitis from Chickens?

People will not be infected with infectious chicken bronchitis.

Chickens are affected by a different strain of the coronavirus, so there is no risk of humans and birds passing the virus between each other.

How Do You Treat Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens?

There is no specific antiviral treatment for infectious bronchitis.

Managing infectious bronchitis typically focuses on supportive care and preventive measures to reduce the severity of the disease and limit its spread within the flock.

This is why prevention is so important.

What Are the Symptoms of Bronchitis in Chickens?

The most apparent bronchitis symptoms are sneezing, coughing, lethargy, wetter droppings, and a reduced appetite in your flock.

Will a Chicken Respiratory Infection Go Away on Its Own?

Chickens may recover from mild cases on their own.

Do your best to offer supportive care and let their immune systems do the work.

Liquid vitamins may be helpful in these instances.

Severe infections, though, may not go away without your intervention.

Intervention usually includes separating the infected birds from the flock and giving the chickens the necessary antibiotics.

Most antibiotics are no longer available to backyard chicken keepers without a veterinarian’s prescription.

Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens: Before You Go…

In conclusion, infectious bronchitis significantly threatens poultry health, impacting the respiratory system and egg production.

While supportive care, isolation, and vaccination can mitigate its effects, prompt veterinary intervention and rigorous biosecurity measures are essential.

Not sure if your chicken has bronchitis or some other nasty respiratory infection, or are you looking for different resources? We have a few pieces to help you out.


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