Staphylococcus infections are common in poultry worldwide. The genus Staphylococcus
is composed of over 36 species and 21 subspecies that are normal inhabitants of the skin, mucous membranes and nares of healthy birds. However some species have the potential to cause disease if it enters the body of the bird, through a wound, inflammation, trimming of toe nails or beak, minor surgical procedures, parenteral vaccinations, or concurrent chronic infection causing a defense impairment of the immune system.
The symptoms vary depending on the site of the infection in the bird. The most frequent locations include the bottom footpad of ducks' feet (manifesting as a complication of bumblefoot), bones, tendon sheaths, and joints. conditions often associated with Staphylococcus
- Bumblefoot: Most often seen in adult ducks and affects their feet.
- Arthritis/Synovitis: Affects the duck's joints. It affects ducks of all ages, however it is most frequently seen in older birds.
- Osteomyelitis/Periostitis: Affects the duck's bone; affects ducks of all ages, however it is most common in older ducks.
- Acute septicaemia: A disease that affects the blood; it is most often seen in older ducks but can affect ducks of any age.
- Cutaneous necrosis: A disease that is seen most frequently in young ducks, affecting their skin.
A breakdown in the natural defense mechanism must occur for S. aureus
to gain entry into ducks. This is usually through a skin wound, inflamed mucous membrane or hematogenous dissemination where a locus of infection is established. It can also occur due to a defense impairment following viral infections.
infection has a short incubation period, with ducklings showing signs usually within 48-72 hours.