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Atherosclerosis is a slow, progressive disease of the arteries that is characterized by the buildup of fat deposits inside the arterial wall. Eventually the accumulation of fat deposits will lead to restriction in blood flow and prevent oxygen from reaching cells. It occurs commonly in older ducks.
Nutrition plays a significant role in its onset and is most frequently seen in ducks who receive a diet low in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and high in saturated fatty acids, high-cholesterol diets, and high-fat diets enriched in linoleic acid.
Most of the time, the first indication of the disease is apparent sudden death related to an unknown cause. When clinical signs do occur, they are usually associated with the complications caused by reduced blood flow through the arteries. This can manifest as lethargy, exercise intolerance, pelvic limb ataxia, difficulty breathing, ataxia, behavioral changes, and/or congestive heart failure.