Attention! This is a potentially life-threatening condition for your bird and possibly your flock. Time is of the essence, contact your veterinarian immediately.Find me a Vet


Osteomyelitis is a serious infection involving the bone. Many different types of bacteria can cause osteomyelitis, however infection with Staphylococcus aureus is the most common cause.

How do ducks get osteomyelitis?

If bacteria gain access to even a small section of the duck's bone, they can quickly multiple and cause infection. Bacteria gain access into the bone:
  • Following an injury. The most common injury that eventually leads to osteomyelitis is bumblefoot. Other, less common injuries include trauma that either results in a deep cut on the skin or a broken bone that is visible through the cut skin.
  • Via the bloodstream. Bacteria that invade the bloodstream from an infection in another part of the body can travel to the bone, causing osteomyelitis.


Loss of appetite
Behavioral changes
A lump formed over the leg bone
Pain and tenderness over the bone
Swelling of the leg
Pus may come out of the skin wound


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Radiographs
  • Blood test


MethodMethod Summary
AntibioticsStarted immediately and chosen based on culture and susceptibility testing in order to target the specific organism.
Antibiotic intravenous regional perfusion therapy (IRPT)A treatment method that has been used often for treating extremity infections in humans and horses. It has the advantage of achieving very high antibiotic concentrations in affected tissues. Recent research shows this method of treatment to be promising for rapid recovery of birds. Three out of four birds that received the treatment underwent a rapid recovery. However there was one bird that did not respond to the treatment and was ultimately euthanatized.
SurgeryMay be needed if the infection becomes severe or persistent.


  • Maintain good flock hygiene.
  • If one of your birds receives a cut or wound clean it thoroughly using an antiseptic. Be sure to keep the injury clean. Take your duck to the vet if the wound is deep, becomes infected or not healing properly.



Risk Factors

  • Ducks with chronic bumblefoot
  • Ducks which have recently broken (fractured) their leg
  • Ducks which have had a previous episode of osteomyelitis
  • Ducks which recently had surgery to a bone
  • Ducks with a poor immune system