Ducks, just like any other poultry species, are also prone to diseases and infections. When rearing ducks, precautionary measures should be taken to prevent them from contracting diseases, and if already infected, prevent them from spreading further. Since ducks live in close proximity with each other, the latter measure is somewhat harder to do which is why it is of prime importance that ducks be vaccinated to prevent these infections.
One of the most common duck diseases is Duck Virus Hepatitis. It is a fatal disease that usually attacks ducklings that are about 1 to 28 days old. The reason why they are easily attacked by this disease is their vulnerability. Their immune system is not yet fully developed and as such make them susceptible to it. The disease spreads rapidly and can cause up to 90% mortality. The signs manifested by ducklings are series of spasmodic contractions on their legs with an enlarged liver that shows hemorrhagic spots. Ducklings can die in as fast as one hour in a characteristic ‘arched-back’ position.
Duck plague, on the other hand, is a disease caused by the herpes virus and is one of the most highly contagious duck diseases there is. Infected birds are sluggish, have ruffled feathers and greenish-yellow diarrhea that are sometimes stained with blood. The hallmark of the disease is the eruptive lesions that can be found on the mucus lining of the duck’s esophagus.
One of the most troublesome duck diseases is fowl cholera. This disease is caused by a bacterium called Pasteurella multocida and is often associated with poor sanitation. The symptoms include diarrhea, mucous discharges and loss of appetite. The liver also enlarges and becomes friable. The disease can be prevented with good sanitation and medications such as Chlortetracycline.
The Pasteurella anatipestifer infection is one of the duck diseases that cause high mortality. The symptoms associated with this disease are eye discharges, diarrhea, lack of coordination, and twisted neck. Most birds are seen lying on their backs while they paddle their feet in the air. The disease usually attacks the air sacs and lining of the vital organs like the heart and the lungs.
Colibacillosis and Aspergillosis are duck diseases caused by a bacterium and fungi respectively. Colibacillosis is caused by Escherichia coli, a bacterium that is often associated with poor hygiene. Escherichia coli thrive in dirty places which is why it is found in vast numbers in the feces. It usually infects the yolk sac resulting to reduced hatchability of eggs. Some strains can even cause similar symptoms as that seen in Pasteurella anatipestifer infection. On the other hand, Aspergillosis is named thus because it is caused by a fungi called Aspergillus which grows on wet straw or feed. It is usually acquired through inhalation. Infected ducks usually have difficulty of breathing and dehydration.