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


Bone Infection

Osteomyelitis is an infection in the bone. Infections can reach the bone by traveling through the bloodstream or spreading from nearby tissue. The infection is most often caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Bone infections can happen suddenly or develop over a long period of time. If they’re not properly treated, bone infections can leave a bone permanently damaged, resulting in a need to amputate the affected bone(s).

Ducks can develop osteomyelitis in their feet and legs if they have an existing injury or wound, such as bumblefoot. Bacteria can enter at a surgical site, such as during a bone fracture repair. Anytime a bone breaks, it increases the risk for bacteria to invade and lead to osteomyelitis.

Osteomyelitis is diagnosed through radiographs (xrays). Most cases of osteomyelitis are treatable in ducks, as long as it is recognized quickly by the owner, and treatment is aggressive, and in accordance with a veterinarian's specific instructions. Otherwise, surgical amputation of the affected limb may be necessary by your veterinarian.


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
  • Physical exam
  • 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.
Amputation surgeryMay be necessary in many cases.


  • 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

Case Stories