backyard poultry

Salmonella Testing – Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory

CVMDL vet lab blue sign on the UConn campus with the brick Chemistry building in the background

Salmonella testing at the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL).

Salmonella infection (salmonellosis) is a common bacterial disease that targets the intestinal tract of humans and animals as well. Salmonella bacteria typically live in the intestines and are shed to the environment through feces. Backyard poultry and wild
birds are susceptible to Salmonella species. They also can carry and transmit Salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean and show no signs of illness.

CVMDL has been routinely performing testing for Salmonella pullorum in backyard chickens.

  • Why Salmonella pullorum (Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar: pullorum)?

Based on the current edition of the Merck Manual of Veterinary Medicine the disease caused by this bacterium (Pullorum disease, white bacillary diarrhea) is characterized by a very high mortality in young chicks and poults. Affected birds tend to huddle, become weak, show lack of appetite, they look depressed and they may have depositions of white colored feces. The disease may also affect older chickens, turkeys, game birds, guinea fowl, ostriches, parrots, peafowl, ring doves and sparrows.

  • Sources of infection for domestic birds.

According with the literature, the disease spreads mainly through contact with infected birds. Transmission from hens to chicks may occur via the egg. Both domestic and wild birds may act as reservoirs for the infection. Other sources of the bacterium could be contaminated feed, water and litter, as well as through contaminated clothing, footwear, vehicles and equipment.

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Home With Chickens: Enhance Your Poultry Skills With Us

rooster at UConn facility
White leghorn roosters with chickens at the Poultry Uniton Jan. 27, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Chickens are increasing in popularity with many residents, and for good reason. Owning poultry provides a source of fresh eggs, and is fun. At some point, you may have questions while you are home with chickens

UConn Extension, part of the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources has a suite of resources for poultry owners. Videos, fact sheets and advice from our educators can help new chicken owners or seasoned poultry professionals enhance your skills and improve the health and wellbeing of your chickens.

Our poultry care video series with retired Extension Educator Dr. Mike Darre from the UConn Department of Animal Science can answer many of your questions. There are 10 videos:

  • How to hold your birds,
  • How to inspect your birds,
    Determining if your chicken is a good layer,
  • Watering systems,
  • Nest boxes,
  • Feeding,
  • Housing and heating,
  • Bird litter, housing, and
  • Egg cleaning and quality check.

Watch the entire series on our YouTube channel at

Fact sheets on small flock management and poultry health issues are available on the poultry science section of our animal science publications. Links to other poultry resources are available on this site as well. Information covered includes breeds of chickens, coop designs, scaling up egg production, managing guinea fowl, and cleaning and disinfecting your poultry house, among others.

If you still have question, you can submit them online and one of our Extension Specialists will provide you with answers and additional resources. Submit your question at: You can also share your experiences and photos of your flock on social media with our hashtag, #HomeWithChickens.

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.