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Other Names: Air Sac Cold, Air Sac Infection, Air Sac Syndrome, Air Sac Disease
Airsacculitis is a lower respiratory-associated disease in chickens, and is defined as inflammation of one or more of the air sacs. Air sacs serve as an integral part of a chicken's respiratory system. Chickens have nine air sacs, which are thin-walled bubble-like pockets that work as a system to circulate oxygen throughout their bodies. There are four paired air sacs (cervical, cranial and caudal thoracic, and abdominal) and one unpaired air sac (clavicular).
When a chicken's air sacs become inflammed, it causes them to thicken and accumulate purulent, or caseous material within the air sac cavity. This is usually caused by a bacterial or fungal infection, and less commonly a virus. Some of the most common pathogens isolated from chickens with airsacculitis include Escherichia coli and Mycoplasma gallisepticum.
Specific diseases associated with onset of airsacculitis include:
Avian chlamydiosis: Avian chlamydiosis (AC) is a zoonotic respiratory disease of chickens caused by gram-negative bacteria from the Chlamydia genus. The genus consists of 11 different species from the Chlamydiaceae family. Chickens are predominately affected by C. psittaci, C. gallinacea and C. suis. Clinical signs observed in chickens vary depending on the virulence of the chlamydial strain and immune status of the bird. The most frequently reported signs in chickens include nasal and ocular discharges, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, weight loss, reduced egg production in hens, hyperthermia, lethargy and dullness.
Newcastle disease (ND): Newcastle disease is a highly contagious viral infection of domestic and wild birds worldwide. Since wild birds can sometimes carry the virus, outbreaks can occur anywhere poultry is raised. ND is caused by Newcastle disease virus (NDV), also known as Avian paramyxovirus-1 (APMV-1). The severity of ND varies widely and is dependent on factors such as: the strain of the virus, the age of the chicken (young chicks are more susceptible), concurrent infection with other organisms, stress and immune status. Some virus strains attack the nervous system, others the respiratory, or digestive systems.
Chronic respiratory disease (CRD): Chronic respiratory disease (CRD), also known collectively as mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) infection, is considered to be one of the major pathogens that cause respiratory disease in poultry. It tends to develop slowly in flocks and associated with progressive and chronic respiratory signs. Chickens with chronic respiratory disease often show clinical signs associated with the respiratory system, which include mild tracheitis, sinusitis, airsacculitis and conjunctivitis.
Aspergillosis: Aspergillosis is a common fungal disease of chickens caused by infection with the genus Aspergillus, which consists of approximately 600 different species. A. fumigatus is the most common species isolated from infected chickens. Aspergillosis manifests as two different forms in chickens. Acute aspergillosis, also referred to as brooder pneumonia is characterized by severe outbreaks in newly hatched chicks and is associated with high morbidity and high mortality rates. Chronic aspergillosis, which is the form discussed herein, is a disease that occurs usually in adult birds that are living in poorly ventilated, dusty or moldy environments.
Ornithobacteriosis: Ornithobacteriosis is an emerging, acute and highly contagious disease of chickens, caused by Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale bacterium. It causes respiratory disease in chickens and turkeys worldwide. O. rhinotracheale is a rod-shaped, gram-negative, bacterium with several serotypes. The disease often presents as pneumonia or airsacculitis in affected flocks.
Case 1: Airsacculitis in a Pheasants Outbreaks of respiratory disease were investigated in reared pheasants aged approximately 18 to 32 weeks, released into the semi-wild on four shooting estates in southern England. The clinical signs in the affected birds included swelling of the face and eyes, loss of condition, gasping respirations and coughing. The gross pathology findings included sinusitis, airsacculitis, pleural oedema and lung lesions. The histopathological findings in the affected lungs were characterized by a granulomatous pneumonia. Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale (ORT) was isolated from respiratory tract tissues, and 16S rRNA gene sequencing on three isolates revealed two distinct genotypes, one previously associated with some electrophoretic type (ET) 1 strains and the other a novel genotype that clustered among sequences previously associated with ET 3, ET 4, ET 5 and ET 6 isolates. In each case, ORT was identified as part of a complex of other respiratory agents including avian paramyxovirus type 2, avian coronavirus, Mycoplasma gallisepticum, Mycoplasma synoviae and other Mycoplasma species, Escherichia coli, Pasteurella multocida, other Pasteurellaceae and Syngamus trachea, suggesting synergism with other agents. Exposure to other intercurrent factors, including adverse weather conditions and internal parasitism, may also have exacerbated the severity of disease. Ref