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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 21471
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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I have a laying chicken with very swollen red glands around

Resolved Question:

I have a laying chicken with very swollen red glands around both neck and head. I have looked up all possible diseases on the internet but cannot find anything that relates to this. The chicken is looking very top heavy and is extremely uncomfortable. she was reluctant to leave her perch. I am worried that it could be a highly infectious condition which could spread to my other laying hens

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
My initial thought is that you're seeing the lesions of the pox virus in your hen. Would you please google "pox virus hen image" and let me know if your bird resembles any of these images, please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No I do not think any of the pictures look like the pox pictures I have found on the internet. The swellings are large and red almost like mumps in humans and since getting in touch with you the hen has died. I am now concerned about the others. I will check them carefully this morning to see if there are any others with similar signs. I have also lost two other chickens with gammy eyes and blocked noses, could all this be related. I move the hens every month, use normal hygiene procedures. Some time ago now I lost a young cockerel that I had bred. I do sell my eggs to the public could these now be infected?

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
I'd like to be able to answer your questions accurately but I admit that I don't know what we're dealing with. The hen should have been refrigerated and brought to your local vet or animal health officer for necropsy. This is how we have to address flock problems; a dying bird is sacrificed for the good of the flock or a newly dead bird is necropsied.

I'm going to open up your question to other vets for you. We don't have many avian-oriented vets on the UK site but perhaps your hen's condition will give another vet that "aha!" moment. There's no extra charge to you. Please don't leave a rating or reply to this message as that will dissuade others from replying to you.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.

Good morning,

Dr. Salkin is correct that the best course of action is to refrigerate that body in case you need to submit it to the local vet, vet lab, pathology department of the local vet school or agricultural college.

That said, if we are seeing very swollen neck/head glands in birds, then I would be suspicious that you may be seeing a cause of Fowl cholera caused by Pasteurella multocida (example 1, example 2). Other differentials that could manifest as swollen red "mumps-like" swellings would include bacterial infections like Colibacillosis, Erysipelas, Infectious Coryza (these often have a pungent odor), Salmonella, Ornithobacterium, Mycoplasma gallisepticum and other members of the Pasteurella family.


If this is similar to what you are seeing, than the best course of action would be to have that samples from that body submitted for bacterial culture to identify the bacterial agent and what antibiotics it is sensitive to. That way, you will know what you are facing, know if there is a risk to egg contamination (fowl cholera doesn't tend to affect the eggs but shell contamination is possible) and what you can do to protect the rest of the flock.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )


Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 21471
Experience: General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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