Pullorosis, also known as “bacillary white diarrhea,” is a septicemic infectious disease that causes high mortality, primarily among young chicks and poults. It is caused by a Gram-negative bacterium, Salmonella enterica sp. enterica serovar Gallinarum biovar Pullorum (S. Pullorum).

The disease primarily affects commercial chickens and turkeys (less than 3 weeks old) or backyard flocks. However, it can be observed in guinea fowl, quails, pheasants, sparrows, parrots, canaries and bullfinches.


In the hatchery, the main signs are reduced hatchability and shell mortality. Birds less than 4 weeks old are most affected; they huddle near the heat source, wings drooping, don’t eat, are weak, depressed and have white diarrhea stuck to the cloaca. They may also have respiratory illness, blindness or swollen joints. Infection typically results in near 100% mortality in young chickens and turkeys during the first 2 to 3 weeks of age. Survivors are small and frequently become asymptomatic carriers with localized infection in the ovary. Some of the eggs laid by these hens hatch and produce infected offspring. In adult chickens, mortality can be high, but often there are no clinical signs.

Salmonella Pullorum bacteria are suitable hosts for avian species and are considered to pose minimal zoonotic risk.

Canada has been declared free of pullorosis and avian typhoid since 1982. Isolated cases of pullorosis were reported in 1997 and 2001 on small farms in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Biosecurity is the best way to protect herds to avoid vertical and horizontal transmission.

For a detailed description of these diseases and control measures, please consult the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website as well as the EQCMA document Detecting notifiable diseases in poultry .

For more information on Pullorosis, visit the CFIA website: Pullorosis