Poultry Diseases: Where to Get Help

Where do I get help when I suspect a health problem in my poultry flock?
Poultry Diseases: Where to Get Help - Articles


University Diagnostic Laboratories

The Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System has several university-based veterinarians with advanced training and expertise in poultry diseases. They deal with all types of avian health problems, from the common to the unusual, and can help sort out individual bird problems from those that may cause sickness in the entire flock.

Diseases that may spread to other animals and people can also be identified. Conditions that may impact food safety of poultry meat and eggs can be detected or ruled out.

Please contact either of the labs below for consultation, preferably the one nearer your location:

Penn State Animal Diagnostic Laboratory

University Park, PA (Centre County)
Phone: 814-863-0837

University of Pennsylvania New Bolton Center PADLS

Kennett Square, PA (Chester County)
Phone: 610-444-4282

PDA Veterinarians

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services also has veterinarians on staff in the roles of keeping birds healthy and preventing disease spread. Some are based at the main offices in Harrisburg, and there are staff in each of seven regions in the state. You may know the PDA veterinarian in your region from fairs or certified poultry technician training courses. Contact phone information for these offices are as follows:

State Veterinarian

  • Harrisburg: 717-772-2852

Regional Veterinarians (7 offices)

  • Northwest (Meadville): Dr. Heather Palm, 814-332-6890
  • North Central (Montoursville): Dr. Amy Nesselrodt, 570-433-2640 ext. 2
  • Northeast (Tunkhannock): Dr. Tony Labarbera, 570-836-2181 ext. 105
  • Southwest (Greensburg): Dr. Erin Moore, 724-832-1073
  • Central (Martinsburg): Dr. Elizabeth Santini, 814-793-1849 ext. 218
  • South Central (Harrisburg): Dr. John Roberts, 717-836-3237
  • Southeast (Collegeville): Dr. Aliza Simeone, 610-489-1003

USDA Healthy Birds Hotline

The United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a national toll-free hotline to report significant illness or deaths consistent with avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease, both highly contagious viral diseases. These signs can include:

  • sudden death without clinical signs
  • lack of energy or appetite
  • decreased egg production
  • soft-shelled or misshapen eggs
  • swelling or purple discoloration of head, eyelids, comb, hocks
  • nasal discharge
  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • incoordination
  • diarrhea

If applicable to your situation, call the USDA Healthy Birds Hotline: 866-536-7593. Callers will be routed to a state or federal veterinarian in Pennsylvania for a case assessment.

Penn State Extension

The Penn State Extension Poultry Team has experts in many other areas of keeping poultry, including breeding, incubation, genetics, judging, nutrition, housing, ventilation, etc. Many health problems are related to these factors rather than infectious disease agents alone.

Private Practice Veterinarians

Private-practice veterinarians who are known to work with poultry patients may also be contacted, especially with reference to a single bird with specific problems. The University-based veterinarians above are available as a resource for private-practice vets to help guide sample selection and diagnostic tests.

What else should I do?

If birds are dying, the dead should be double-bagged and refrigerated (do not freeze) for possible testing. Meanwhile, until the problem is investigated further, diagnosed, and/or resolved, put your flock on "voluntary quarantine." This means operating as a closed flock during this time. Do not buy, sell, trade, or otherwise move birds to or from your premises. Do not visit other flocks, poultry auctions or shows, or receive visitors who have their own birds. These measures will help prevent potential disease-causing agents from being transmitted to other flocks and new agents from being introduced into yours.