Erysipelas is an acute infectious bacterial disease that occurs most often in adult chickens during the fall. The disease is caused by infection with Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae
(formally referred to as E. insidiosa
) bacterium. Many deaths occur before any symptoms are seen. Most affected birds are visibly sick for only a short period of time before death. General symptoms include listlessness, weakness, loss of appetite, and sometimes yellowish or greenish diarrhea. In rare cases, chickens may develop purple to red colored blotches on their skin, which is the result of subcutaneous hemorrhaging.
enters the chicken's body through breaks in the skin, such as open wounds and scratches. The organism is able to survive in the soil and decaying organic matter in the environment for long periods of time. The red poultry mite (Dermanyssus gallinae)
, is a potential vector of E. rhusiopathiae
, and can act as reservoir hosts, allowing it to persist on the premises between flocks as a source of infection for the next flock of birds. Infection with E. rhusiopathiae
has also been linked to chickens consuming fish meal. Chickens which recover from the disease may continue to shed E. rhusiopathiae
in their droppings, and potentially place other flock members, as well as humans and other animals at risk.
With oral exposure, signs of disease show 2-3 days after infection.