US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version

January 1989


Published in Diana H. Cross and Paul Vohs (eds.) Waterfowl Management Handbook. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1988. Online at


Avian cholera is a highly infectious disease caused by the bacterium, Pasteurella multocida. Acute infections are common and can result in death 6 to 12 hours after exposure. Under these circumstances “explosive” die-offs involving more than 1,000 birds per day have occurred in wild waterfowl. More chronic infections with longer incubation times and less dramatic losses also occur. Transmission can occur by bird-to-bird contact, ingestion of contaminated food or water, and perhaps in aerosol form.