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Staphylococcosis Infection

Other Names: Staph Infection, Staph Septicemia, Staph Arthritis, Bumblefoot .

Staphylococcosis infections are common in poultry worldwide. The genus Staphylococcus is composed of over 36 species and 21 subspecies that are normal inhabitants of the skin, mucous membranes and nares of healthy birds. However some species have the potential to cause disease if it enters the body of the bird, through a wound, inflammation, trimming of toe nails or beak, open naval of newly hatched chicks, minor surgical procedures, parenteral vaccinations, or concurrent chronic infection causing a defense impairment of the immune system.

Most infections are related to invasion with Staphylococcus aureus, which is considered the most pathogenic staphylococcal species. Recently, S. agnetis has emerged as the primary pathogen causing bacterial chondronecrosis with osteomyelitis (BCO) of the proximal tibiae and femora in broiler chickens. There are several disease manifestations in chickens associated with infection with Staphylococcus spp.

Staphylococcal-related infections
FormLocationTypical AgeUsual outcome
OsteomyelitisBoneUsually olderChronic lameness
Arthritis/SynovitisJointUsually olderChronic lameness
BumblefootFeetAdultsLameness, often chronic
OmphalitisYolk sacNewly hatched chicksDeath
Acute SepticemiaBloodAnyDeath
Gangrenous dermatitisSkinYoungDeath
A breakdown in the natural defense mechanism must occur for S. aureus to gain entry into chickens. This is usually through a skin wound, inflamed mucous membrane or hematogenous dissemination where a locus of infection is established. It can also occur due to a defense impairment following viral infections.

Incubation period
S. aureus infection has a short incubation period, with chicks showing signs usually within 48-72 hours.

Clinical Signs

Lameness in one or both legs
Ruffled feathers
Skin reddening
Reluctance to walk
Joint swelling


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Bacterial culture
  • Quantitative PCR


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.



  • Provide a balanced nutritional diet
  • Promptly and correctly attend to and treat any wounds
  • Decrease risk of injury by eliminating birds' access to sharp surfaces or objects
  • Practice good sanitary practices and regularly change bedding litter
  • Always disinfect or fumigate incubators and brooders following each use
  • Keep stress level down in birds

Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Dirty, unsanitary living conditions
  • History of recent skin wound
  • Concurrent infection or illness
  • Stress
  • Immunosuppression