Attention! This is a potentially life-threatening condition for your bird and/or flock. Time is of the essence, contact your veterinarian immediately.Find me a Vet

Egg Yolk Peritonitis

Salpingoperitonitis, Escherichia Coli Peritonitis Syndrome (EPS)

Egg yolk peritonitis is considered to be a life-threatening emergency for hens. It occurs commonly in sexually mature laying hens, especially breeds that were created for excessive egg production--such as the Leghorn, Sex link (including the Black Star and Red Star), and ISA Brown Sex link. Egg yolk peritonitis is defined as the presence of yolk material in the peritoneum (the thin tissue lining the inner wall of the abdomen) and celomic cavity of the hen. The presence of the yolk material causes an inflammatory response and often gets reabsorbed by the peritoneum. However, since yolk is an excellent growth medium for bacteria, peritonitis often occurs as a result of a secondary bacterial infection. The infection causes a localized to diffuse fibrinous reaction which may also lead to the onset of ascites, inflammation of multiple organs, and result in organ compromise. Egg yolk peritonitis can also develop secondary to hens silently suffering from salpingitis. Affected hens may have a history of egg binding, usually within the past six months.

Symptoms

Walks or stands with her back end lowered
Appears to be in discomfort
Enlarged abdomen
Swollen, sometimes pasted vent
Difficulty breathing
Loss of appetite
Depression
Yolk colored droppings
Early morning death
Decreased or no egg production

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Blood chemistry panel
  • Radiography
  • Ultrasound
  • Exploratory surgery
  • Necropsy

Treatment

MethodDetails
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
SurgeryMost hens require surgery to remove the accumulated egg material from their body and infected or atrophied parts of the hen's reproductive system. Essentially she will need to be 'spayed', followed by a course of antibiotics.
Homeopathy1 tablet Hepar Sulph and 1 tablet Bryonia crushed. Add to an egg cup of water, and use 2-3 drops 3 times dailyBritish Hen Welfare Trust

Prevention

  • Periodic hormone injections (if kept as pets)
  • Spaying procedure
  • Maintain sanitary conditions and frequently change the bedding litter
  • Avoid overcrowding, buildup of ammonia, or dry, dusty conditions
  • Provide adequate ventilation
  • Ensure clean drinking water, free from fecal contamination

Prognosis

Poor unless the hen is promptly taken to a veterinarian.

Scientific References

Good Overviews

Age Range

It often occurs in adult egg laying hens

Risk Factors

  • Excessive laying
  • High production chicken breeds, such as Leghorn, Red Star, and other breeds that are used by the commercial egg industry to produce eggs.