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Other Names: Turkey X-disease

Aflatoxicosis is a type of poisoning from ingestion of aflatoxins in contaminated foods or poultry feed. They are potent hepatotoxins produced by Aspergillus flavus, A. parasiticus, or Penicillium puberulum. The 4 aflatoxins of concern are B1, B2, G1, and G2. However, B1 is the most predominant and toxic.
Aflatoxin contamination is typically found in poor quality (cheap) poultry feeds which were made with contaminated ingredients, specifically corn.

Aflatoxicosis can develop in both acute and chronic form. The chronic form is the most common and is the result of continuous ingestion of contaminated feed over a period of time. This causes:
  • Immunosuppression: Increases susceptibility to secondary infection by opportunistic pathogens.
  • Reduced vaccine effectiveness: Decreases resistance against viral pathogens, increasing the risk of acquiring the disease they are getting vaccinated against.
  • Gastrointestinal tract damage: Causes erosion and roughening of the gizzard lining, resulting in decreased absorption of nutrients, stunted growth, nutrient-deficient related syndromes, and lowered feed conversion.
  • Liver damage: The primary site of toxicity due to aflatoxins is the liver. Exposure causes hepatic lesions and enlargement of the liver as well as fatty liver.
  • Production losses: Decreases egg production and egg quality in laying hens and hatchable eggs in breeding chickens.

Clinical Signs

Loss in appetite
Undigested feed in droppings
Stunted growth
Weight loss
Heat stress
Sudden death
Decreased egg production
Reduced egg size
Increased feather pecking behavior
Poor feather growth


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Aflatoxin Quantitative ELISA test
  • Aflatoxin rapid screen test

Reported Cases

  • Case 1: Aflatoxicosis in a Chickens Two outbreaks of aflatoxicosis occurred in two different flocks of 9-week-old and 4-day-old chickens on the same farm. Both flocks were fed feed made from the same company. Clinical signs of spastic paralysis of the legs started after 2 weeks of being fed a diet contaminated with mycotoxins. Several of the birds who were still able to walk, would walk for only a few seconds before showing full body trembling. Their gait was incoordinated and off balance (ataxia). The affected bird's diet was still good, despite the difficulty they had accessing the food and water due to difficulty walking. Samples of the feed were sent to a diagnostic lab for analysis of the presence of aflatoxins, which came back positive. Ref

  • Case 2: Aflatoxicosis in a Laying hens A flock in North Carolina was raised on a farm where the farmer manufactured his own corn that was used to feed the chickens. Within 48 hours after receiving the corn, the birds started dying. One of the bins of corn was inspected and found to be covered with mold and had a sharp musty odor. Samples were sent to a lab and confirmed to be contaminated with mycotoxins. Ref


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.
Remove source of potential toxin source to prevent further illness among other flock members.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC)800 mg/kg BW; Provided protection of broiler chicks against negative effects on performance, liver and renal damage, and biochemical alterations induced by AFB1.A Valdivia et al., 2001
ProbioticsAdded to the diet; can be used to alleviate the negative effects of contamination of broiler feed with AFB1 on bird health.K Slizewska et al., 2019; V Poloni et al., 2020
Activated charcoalConsiderably reduced the toxicity of AFB1 in the experimental chickens.R Dalvi et al., 1984
Grape seed extract250-500 mg/kg;has protective effects against aflatoxicosis caused by AFB1.S Rajput et al., 2018;M Long et al., 2016
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) extract450 mg/kg or 0.4% in drinking water; helps diminish the detrimental effects of aflatoxins in feed.H Al-Daraji et al.,2012; J Salary et al., 2014
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)222 mg/kg (powder) or 5 mg/kg diet (extract); ameliorated the adverse effects of AFB1 on serum chemistry in terms of total protein, albumin and γ-glutamyl transferase activity.N Gowda et al., 2009;M Gholami-Ahangaran et al., 2015
Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) oilHas a potent hepatoprotective activity, reducing the concentration of aflatoxins in liver and diminishing their adverse effects.C Solcan et al., 2013
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) seed extract0.5-1% diet; can provide protection against the negative effects of AFB1H Amiridumari et al., 2013
Black cumin (Nigella sativa) extract1% of diet; can help alleviate the negative effects of aflatoxins in diet.S Abosaleh et al., 2019



  • Buy quality poultry feed
  • Don't feed chickens scratch, corn products, or peanuts.
  • Buy corn-free poultry feed.



Scientific References

Age Range

Younger chickens are more susceptible to disease.

Risk Factors

  • Feeding poor quality (cheap) poultry feed.
  • Feeding lots of scratch and corn to chickens.
  • Improperly storing poultry feed.