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Causes of Eye and Respiratory Symptoms


By Dr Rob Marshall


It is difficult to differentiate the causes of eye and respiratory symptoms, as many diseases may affect the eye and respiratory organs.


The most common causes of these symptoms in backyard and show poultry are the following diseases: Infectious Coryza, CRD (Mycoplasma infections), ILT, IB Marek’s Disease (MD) and Fowl Pox. Aspergillus infections may show respiratory symptoms as well.


It is difficult to differentiate ILT from Coryza and other viral respiratory diseases but there are means for doing so if we look at the following respiratory and eye symptom check list:


  • Eye discharge


  • Nasal discharge

  • Face swelling

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Sneezing

  • Shaking head

  • Gurgling sounds

  • Coughing

  • Gaping

  • Bloody discharge

Birds infected with ILT remain quiet because breathing is difficult. Coughing, sneezing, and shaking of the head to dislodge exudate plugs in the windpipe follow. Birds extend their head and neck to facilitate breathing and gape. Inhalation produces a wheezing and gurgling sound. Blood-tinged exudates and serum clots are expelled from the trachea of affected birds. Many birds die from asphyxiation due to a blockage of the trachea when the tracheal plug is freed.

Eye discharge, nasal discharge, face swelling, conjunctivitis, sneezing, shaking head, and gurgling sounds are also seen with Infectious Coryza, but Coryza does not cause coughing, gaping or any bloody discharges.


Gurgles, gaping, eye discharge, nasal discharge also occur with Infectious Bronchitis, but IB does not cause coughing, sneezing, head shaking, facial swelling or conjunctivitis.

It is difficult to differentiate ILT from Mycoplasma infections as CRD shares most symptoms except bloody discharge and infection is usually not rapidly fatal.


Eye swellings can occur with other diseases such as this bird with Marek’s Disease.There will be no sneezing or coughing with this particular eye form of Marek’s Disease.

Eye problems also occur with fowl pox but this is easily distinguished from respiratory viruses.

Chinese Silkies are our first choice backyard chicken. They are robust, loveable, quiet, lay good quality eggs and make ideal pets.

Our programmes are a simple and effective way to provide your chicken companions with the best possible care.

Click for information regarding our holistic methods for managing chicken diseases.

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