Fri. Sep 30th, 2022

Ducks are waterfowl and scavengers by nature and are relatively resistant to many common diseases of birds. Keeping ducks healthy requires taking the necessary steps to prevent disease outbreaks from occurring in the first place, and in cases where ducks do become infected, administering appropriate treatment to minimize mortality and morbidity.


  • Duck Virus hepatitis
  • Duck Plague (Duck Virus Enteritis)
  • Riemerella anatipestifer Infection
  • Avian Cholera
  • Colibacillosis
  • Aspergillosis
  • Aflatoxin poisoning
  • Botulism
  • Poisoning by Insecticides, rodenticides

Duck Virus hepatitis

Duck virus hepatitis is a highly fatal contagious disease of young ducklings, 1-28 days of age. Ducklings are most susceptible at the younger ages and gradually become more resistant as they grow older. The disease is rarely seen in ducklings over 4 weeks of age. The onset of the disease is very rapid, it spreads quickly through the flock and may cause up to 90% mortality. Sick ducklings develop spasmodic contractions of their legs and die within an hour in a typical “arched-backward” position. The liver is enlarged and shows hemorrhagic spots. To prevent this disease, keep age groups isolated and vaccinate breeder ducks with an attenuated live virus duck hepatitis vaccine (to produce maternally immune ducklings).

Duck Plague (Duck Virus Enteritis)

Duck virus enteritis is an acute, contagious, highly fatal disease of waterfowl caused by a herpes virus. This disease is most likely to affect mature ducks, but is also seen in young ducks. Affected birds show sluggishness, ruffled feathers, greenish-yellow diarrhea that is sometime blood-stained. Dead birds often have blood-stained feathers around the vent and blood dripping from the nostrils. Hemorrhages may be found in tissues throughout the body. Eruptive lesions of the mucous lining of the esophagus and intestine are characteristic signs of the disease. Necrotic plaques may be observed in the cloaca. Regular immunization of breeder ducks with an attenuated live duck virus enteritis vaccine provides adequate protection.

Avian Cholera

Avian cholera, also called fowl cholera, caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida is an important disease of domestic ducks, and is an especially troublesome disease of ducks in some parts of Asia. This disease is associated with poor sanitation, and standing water in duck pens. Symptoms include loss of appetite, mucous discharge from the mouth, diarrhea, and in breeder ducks, labored breathing. Lesions found in dead birds include hemorrhages on heart muscle, mesentery and abdominal fat. The liver is enlarged, copper colored and friable (easily crumbled). Pinpoint whitish spots may be seen on the liver. Good sanitation practices go a long way toward preventing this disease. Sulfadimethoxine-ormetoprim (0.02-0.04%) and Chlortetracycline (0.044%). given in feed are effective treatments.


This common infection of poultry caused by Escherichia coli., causes reduced hatchability, infection of the yolk sac (omphalitis), a septicemia (bacterial invasion of bloodstream) in ducks 2-8 weeks of age and salpingitis and peritonitis in breeder ducks. In market ducks, E. coli. infection produces lesions very similar to those seen in Riemerella anatipestifer infection. Good sanitation and management are important preventive measures. Sulfadimethoxine-ormetoprim (0.04-0.08%) and chlorotetracycline (0.044%) in feed are helpful in controlling this disease.

Riemerella anatipestifer Infection

This bacterial disease of ducks is also known as Pasteurella anatipestifer infection, infectious serositis and New Duck disease. Anatipestifer infection causes high mortality, weight loss and condemnation. In the acute form, listlessness, eye discharge and diarrhea are commonly seen. Ducks show incoordination, shaking of the head and twisted neck. Birds are commonly found on their backs, paddling their legs. Typical lesions found in dead birds are infected air sacs, membranes covering the heart and liver, and meningitis. Preventive management and vaccination are effective means of control. Penicillin, enrofloxacin and sulfadimethoxine-ormetoprim (0.04-0.08% in feed) are effective in reducing mortality


This condition occurs when ducks inhale spores produced by the mold (fungi) Aspergillus (Aspergillus fumigatus is the common species) that grows on damp straw or feed. These inhaled spores cause multiple nodules or plaques in the lungs and air sacs. Common signs include gasping, listlessness and dehydration. This disease is not to be confused with aflatoxin poisoning described below. The best solution to prevent aspergillosis is to avoid using moldy straw and preventing feed from getting wet.


Ducks are particularly susceptible to certain toxins, and in some cases strikingly more than chickens or turkeys. Therefore, duck caretakers must be especially diligent in preventing ducks from consuming or being exposed to these toxins.

Aflatoxin poisoning

Molds (fungi) that grow on cereal grains and oilseeds before and after harvest produce a number of toxins that are particularly harmful to ducks. By far the most toxic of these substance is a group of toxins called aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are produced by the molds Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Ducks are highly susceptible to these toxins. Very small amounts will cause high mortality. Wet harvest conditions encourage the growth of this mold.


Ducks that have access to stagnant ponds or other areas where decaying organic matter (animal carcasses, in particular) is found may consume toxins produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. This happens when temperature and other conditions are right for the growth of this anaerobic spore-forming bacterium. Botulism causes a progressive flaccid (limp) paralysis of the neck (limber neck), legs and wings. Affected ducks usually die in a coma within 24-48 hours.

Insecticides, rodenticides

Duck keepers should take care not to use insect sprays or rodent poisons, that are known to be harmful to ducks, in areas accessible to ducks. Some insect sprays are highly toxic to ducks, such as parathion and diazinon. Always read the directions on the insecticide container carefully before using around ducks. Rat poisons that contain Warfarin, an anticoagulant, if consumed by ducks, can cause them to bleed to death.


  • Establish and maintain a biosecurity program that will prevent the introduction of diseases into the premises where ducks are kept.
  • This includes prohibiting the admission of any potential source of infectious agents, such as live ducks, other fowl or animals.
  • In cases where it is necessary to bring live ducks to the farm, the ducks must be from an established disease-free source and should be quarantined for observation before being placed on the farm premises.
  • The entry of potential carriers of infectious material such as people, trucks, poultry crates and equipment must be denied unless appropriate disinfection measures are taken.
  • Duck caretakers should change clothing and boots and use disinfectant foot baths upon entering the premises or buildings.
  • Immunize ducks against known infectious diseases. In many cases, a high level of protection against common duck diseases can be induced by the administration of appropriate vaccines or bacterins at the proper time.
  • Minimize environmental stresses which may cause ducks to become susceptible to infections. This includes providing proper housing, management, ventilation and nutrition etc.


Name of the VaccineDoseRouteAge
Duck Cholera (Pasteurellosis)0.3mlintramuscular4-6 week
Duck plague0.5mlSubcutaneous Wing web6-8week
Duck cholera booster0.5mlIntra muscular8-10 week
Duck plague booster0.5mlSubcutaneous Wing webUp to 12 week


Ducks are water fowl and they are more susceptible to some diseases like duck plague and duck cholera. If ducks are infected by diseases especially viral diseases, treatment is not effective and mortally rate will be   increases above 90 %. For avoiding these diseases, we should take proper precautionary measures including effective vaccination, biosecurity measures and other manage mental practices.


  • http://poultry/biosecurity-guidelines-for-poultry-producers
  • Diseases of Poultry-David E. Swayne

By admin

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