IMPORTANT: If you reside in a country where health product communications are restricted to health care professionals, and you are NOT a health care professional, please contact your veterinarian instead of reading the following information.
Protecting Other Species: Duck, Turkey, Goose, Rabbit*
Chicken and eggs dominate the poultry food industry, feeding billions of people all over the world. But several smaller segments of the avian market focused on other species are important suppliers of regional food products, many with strong cultural significance. Think of the role in French cuisine of foie gras, duck confit, or rabbit stew. The iconic American Thanksgiving turkey. The Peking duck centerpiece at a Chinese banquet.
The biggest secondary avian markets are turkey and duck; the duck industry is further divided, most significantly into Muscovy ducks for meat and Mulard ducks for foie gras. There are also segments for more specialized bird species like geese, and even pheasants and guinea fowl. In some regions, the rabbit meat industry has traditionally been categorized under avian by agricultural authorities. Historically, these segments often operated as smaller, standalone operations, but today more and more of them are part of larger integrated poultry companies in many regions of the world. Whether big or small, these specialized businesses need specialized products and programs to protect the health of their animals and the quality of the foods they produce.
Disease Management Approaches
Just as with chickens, the health of these other species can be compromised by a variety of viral and bacterial pathogens. Some are common across multiple avian species—for example, important viral diseases in the chicken industry, such as Newcastle and Marek’s, also affect turkeys, while many common bacterial infections, like mycoplasma, pasteurella, and E. coli, are found in turkeys and ducks as well as chicken. And avian influenza viruses can infect every kind of domestic poultry. Each species also has its own unique health threats, and for many of these, vaccination is a first-line means of prevention and control.
Both live and inactivated vaccines are available for most of the key diseases threatening the duck, turkey, and rabbit industries. Standardized vaccination protocols are widely implemented, although they may need to be adapted for a variety of factors, including regional epidemiologies, flock longevity, local business practices, and more. In some countries—such as France—hatchery vaccination is commonly used with duck and turkey flocks, allowing for early protection in a controlled environment. With many viral diseases in turkeys, secondary bacterial infections are common—so early vaccination can help reduce the need for birds to undergo more intensive treatment later in life.
Today Merial is a global company with a presence all over the world. But our roots—and our headquarters still—are in Lyon, considered France’s (if not the world’s) gastronomic capital. We take great pride in our heritage and have been supplying these specialized French food industries with vaccines since the 1970s. Because of the importance of ducks in traditional French cuisine, Merial has emerged as a duck vaccine specialist, but we are also unique in the animal health industry for our wider product range across several species.
While France remains Merial’s largest market for these vaccines, our global footprint has allowed us to widen our offerings to many other regions,** including other parts of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and South America. Our diverse portfolio* of product brands for secondary species currently includes:
- PARVOKAN, , one of the industry’s leading vaccines to protect Muscovy ducks against parvovirus
- PALMIVAX , one of the industry’s leading vaccines to protect geese and pure breeds or hybrids of Muscovy ducks against parvovirus
- VAXIDUK , one of the industry’s leading vaccines to protect ducks against duck viral enteritis
- DINDORAL , one of the industry’s leading vaccines to protect turkeys against hemorrhagic enteritis
- AVIFFA RTI, our vaccine to protect turkeys against rhinotracheitis
- DERCUMINIX , our vaccine to protect rabbits against myxomatosis and viral hemorrhagic disease
With all products, brand and availability varies from region to region, but we are always evolving our portfolio to address new challenges and industry needs. And when it comes to specialized avian markets, as important as Merial’s vaccines is the expertise of our Veterinary Services teams. They are the industry’s most experienced health specialists in these secondary species, bringing the knowledge and tools to develop customized vaccination programs for each business’s health and productivity goals. And Merial's Vaccination Technologies & Services (VTS) group provides innovative equipment and dedicated on-site support to ensure any program’s ongoing success.
Key Diseases Affecting Other Avian Markets*
IMPORTANT: Following are the top diseases of non-chicken species that Merial’s avian business currently focuses on, but be aware that we do not offer products for all these diseases in all regions, and we may offer local products for other disease concerns. To learn about complete product options in your country, talk to your current Merial representative or contact us.
Two types of highly contagious parvovirus can infect Muscovy ducks, one of which (the Derzsy’s disease virus) also infects geese. Clinical disease is seen primarily in very young birds (under 6 weeks of age), although older birds that remain healthy can become viral carriers. Disease onset is rapid and acute, with severe lethargy and wasting, and mortality rates of 70-100%, making it a serious economic threat to commercial duck and goose producers. The Derzsy’s parvovirus also affects Mulard ducks, causing a syndrome of dwarfism and stunted beaks.
These parvoviruses are mostly transmitted horizontally through the feces of infected birds and can be resistant to sanitation measures. Vaccination is the best means of controlling their spread and helping prevent disease; vaccinating breeder birds also passes maternal antibodies on to new chicks during their period of highest susceptibility. Merial offers the industry’s leading vaccines to protect ducks and geese against parvoviruses.
Merial brands:** PARVOKAN; PALMIVAX
Duck Viral Enteritis (DVE)*
Caused by a herpesvirus, duck viral enteritis (DVE)—also known as “duck plague”—attacks the blood vessels of ducks and geese, causing a sharp drop in egg production, severe clinical disease, and sudden death. Muscovy ducks are found to be most susceptible, but all species can be affected. Because of its acute onset and high mortality (sometimes up to 100%), it can cause major losses in the industry, and is found in most duck-producing regions of the world.
The DVE virus spreads easily in the environment, especially through water, and recovered birds remain carriers, with periodic episodes of viral shed. Vaccination, available in some regions, helps prevent disease and control outbreaks. Merial offers the industry’s leading vaccine against DVE.
Merial brands:** VAXIDUK
Hemorrhagic enteritis is a viral disease that affects young turkeys (most commonly at 7-9 weeks of age) and is characterized by severe lethargy and bloody droppings. Mortality rates are variable, but birds that do survive (or are only mildly affected) may remain immunosuppressed, making them more susceptible to other bacterial infections.
The virus is considered endemic in most regions with commercial turkey operations and spreads easily and rapidly through the production environment. Because it is so widespread, vaccination of young turkeys has become standard protocol in the industry to help prevent disease outbreaks and reduce the need to treat secondary infections. Merial offers the industry’s leading turkey vaccine against hemorrhagic enteritis.
Merial brands:** DINDORAL
The avian metapneumovirus infects many species, causing different respiratory diseases that result in significant economic loss. In turkeys the virus causes avian rhinotracheitis, an acute respiratory tract infection. Younger birds tend to be susceptible to more severe disease, while laying hens may experience a drop in egg production. The clinical signs are very similar to other respiratory diseases, so accurate diagnosis is an important part of disease control.
Vaccination is widely used in endemic areas, and very early administration is recommended since inherited maternal antibodies are insufficient against the virus in young chicks. The usual approach is early vaccination with a live vaccine followed by inactivated boosters for longer protection.
Merial brands:** AVIFFA RTI
The myxoma virus infects all breeds of domesticated rabbits, causing the fatal disease myxomatosis. Clinical signs usually include eye problems, swelling, skin tumors, and severe lethargy; disease progression is rapid, with death usually occurring within days or at most a few weeks. The virus can be spread by direct contact between animals, or transmitted by flea or mosquito bites. There is no post-infection treatment, but vaccination is available in the most affected regions (primarily Europe) and is effective in helping prevent the disease. Myxoma vaccination is widely practiced in the rabbit meat industry, and the same vaccines are often also used in pet rabbits. Merial offers one of the industry’s leading vaccines to protect rabbits against myxomatosis.
Merial brands:** DERCUMINIX
Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (VHD)*
Viral hemorrhagic disease (VHD) affects both wild and domestic species of rabbits in many regions of the world (excluding the U.S.). It is caused by the rabbit calicivirus, which is highly contagious, spreading easily by direct contact between animals and within the environment. VHD causes blood clotting in major organs and is characterized by extremely rapid onset, with rabbits often dying within days or even hours of infection. Often, death is so sudden that it precludes clinical signs, other than fever. Certain countries have successfully eradicated the disease and implemented import bans on rabbits. In endemic regions, vaccination is an effective means of prevention and commonly used in the rabbit meat industry. Merial offers one of the industry’s leading vaccines to protect rabbits against VHD.
Merial brands:** DERCUMINIX
*Merial produces and markets several vaccines against various diseases that affect ducks, turkeys, geese, and rabbits. However, be aware that NOT all aspects of the diseases mentioned on this page are addressed by a vaccine. Always consult the product label for exact vaccine indications.
**Many of Merial’s avian vaccines are only marketed and available in certain countries, sometimes under different trade names. Speak to your Merial representative or contact us to find out what’s available in your region.
Scientific Literature & Other Materials
Want to dig deeper? Browse published research on a range of poultry diseases and products, plus our equipment brochures, website articles, and more.
Product background info, vaccination equipment demos, and customer testimonials—explore all these and others from our video collection.