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Nature of the disease
Fowl cholera or avian pasteurellosis is the disease caused by Pasteurella multocida. It can cause septicaemia and high mortality.
OIE, List B disease
Susceptible species
All type of birds, among domestic species, turkeys are more severely affected.
Fowl cholera is widely distributed throughout the world. It is also present in the Pacific region, however a few countries never reported it.
Clinical signs
In its acute form the disease is often first characterised by sudden death of birds. Other signs include: 
  • Fever, 
  • Anorexia, 
  • Depression, 
  • Mucous discharge from the mouth,
  • Diarrhoea, 
  • Ruffled feathers,
  • Increased respiratory rate,
  • Cyanosis 

In chronic form the disease is characterised by localised infections that involve joints, foot pads, tendon sheaths, sternal bursa, conjunctivae, wattles, pharynx, lungs and air sacs. Sometimes middle ears, bone marrow and meninges.

Post-mortem findings
Post mortem lesions include hyperaemia, haemorrhages, enlarged liver and spleen, focal necrotic areas in the liver and/or spleen, pneumonia, and slightly increased amounts of peritoneal and pericardial fluids. 
Differential diagnosis
In chickens:
  • Salmonellosis,
  • Colibaccillosis,
  • Listeriosis.

In turkeys:

  • Pseudo-tuberculosis, 
  • Erysipelas,
  • Chlamydiosis.
Specimens required for diagnosis
The bacteria is usually isolated from specimen of liver, bone marrow, spleen or heart blood collected at post-mortem.
Fowl cholera is transmitted by excretions from mouth, nose and conjunctiva. Chronically infected birds are a major source of contamination.
Risk of introduction   
Where it is not present fowl cholera could be introduced by importation of live infected birds or less likely poultry meat.
Control / vaccines  
Vaccination plays a significant role in the control of this disease. The P. multodica vaccines in general use are bacterins, prepared from serotypes selected on the basis of epidemiological information. 
  • Fowl cholera, In Merck Veterinary Manual, National Publishing Inc. Eight ed, 1998, Philadelphia, p. 1915-1916
  • Office International des Epizooties, 2002