Can Turkeys Get Rabies? (Here is What You Need To Know)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Rabies is a viral infection and it is caused by viruses belonging to the Lyssavirus genus. It is an animal disease that can spread to humans so being careful around animals is necessary.

The virus affects the brain and spinal cord causing inflammation among other things. Fever, paralysed muscles, coma are some of the symptoms.

Only mammals are in danger of getting this disease naturally so your turkeys are safe from this infection.

This doesn’t mean you should be careless in your care of your turkeys or in your handling of them.

This report shows there’s a possibility of turkeys getting rabies in an environment with high population of infected dogs.

There is a possibility that your turkeys can get rabies if bitten by an infected dog.

This means you have to be extra determined about protecting your turkeys from predators, especially if you live in an environment full of stray dogs.

Do turkeys carry diseases?

Can Turkeys Get Rabies

Yes, turkeys do carry diseases.

There are a number of diseases that affect turkeys and yes turkeys are also carriers of diseases that can affect other livestock and can also be transmitted to humans.

This means you have to be extra careful when caring for your turkeys and handling them.

When purchasing turkeys to add to your backyard poultry, you should be sure of its source and it should be a source that is well vetted for healthy birds.

Adding turkeys that have not been properly vaccinated and cared for can be dangerous to your poultry and to your household. You should avoid it at all cost.

Want to raise turkeys? Then checkout this comprehensive guide

Can rabies infect birds?

Like I explained earlier, only mammals get rabies.

Wild animals are in more danger of getting infected because of exposure and lack of care.

Rabies is more prevalent in mammals like dogs, raccoons, skunks, foxes etc. This virus can also be transmitted to humans from these animals.

Since birds are not mammals, they cannot be infected with rabies. Lots of studies have been carried out to establish this claim.

A recent discovery however showed that this may not be true.

A bird that died after a month from a stray dog’s bite was tested for rabies and the result came out positive.

So there is a possibility that rabies can infect birds.

How can you tell if a bird has rabies?

An animal with rabies can’t be known buy just looking at it.

You can only know by studying them, their behaviors and demeanor.

It is unlikely for a bird to have rabies but if it does, the symptoms shouldn’t be different from the ones seen in other animals.

An animal with rabies acts strangely. It may become hostile trying to bite humans and other animals and act mad. Rabies also cause them to have more saliva which may make them drool.

The most common symptom however is acting timid and shy.

If an animal that is active and energetic suddenly becomes timid, slow and appear fragile. It may be infected by rabies.

Wild animals with rabies will probably not run away from you which is odd for wild animals.

The surest way to know if your bird has rabies however is through a laboratory test.

A bird showing all the symptoms above may not be infected with rabies so the only way to be sure is to do a laboratory test on the bird.

Unfortunately a rabies test can only be done on a dead animal.

How can you prevent rabies in your farm?

It is important you prevent rabies from infecting your pets and livestock. Ensure rabies do not get into your farm. How can you do this?

1. Hiding places, nests and roosts should be eliminated from your farm.

This discourages wild animals from coming to your farm.

Wild animals are notorious for carrying the rabies disease, this is why you should ensure they stay far away from your farm.

2. Don’t attract wild animals to your farm by feeding them.

I know it’s tempting to occasionally feed wild animals passing through your farms but it only encourages them to come often.

These animals may be infected with rabies and can transmit them to you or your pets and livestock.

3. Ensure you do not leave your animals’ leftover feed outside.

This can attract wild animals to your farm. Your garbage should not remain in the open too.

4. Your farm should be properly fenced to keep wild animals out.

This not only prevent your farm from rabies but also keeps your animals safe from predators.

Can humans get rabies from turkeys?

No, humans cannot get rabies from turkeys.

It is unlikely that a turkey or any bird would be infected by rabies but if they do, they cannot transmit it to humans.

What are the common diseases in turkeys?

The common diseases in turkeys are fowl cholera, fowl pox, blue comb, round worm, bumblefoot, blackhead etc.

These diseases can be lethal and lead to death fast.

They are best prevented. Let’s discuss some.


The blackhead disease is common in turkeys.

Turkeys get it when they ingest Heteraki’s worm eggs that are infected with blackhead.

It shows in their gut and burrows into the caeca wall causing inflammation. It eventually moves from the abdomen to the liver causing damage and death.

Yellow diarrhea, dullness and in extreme cases blackness of the head are some of the symptoms.

It can be prevented by keeping your turkeys regularly wormed.

Blue comb.

This disease is mostly cause by bovine coronaviruses and avian coronaviruses.

Some of its symptoms are weight loss, lack of appetite and wet dropping.


This is a common illness in turkeys. It causes lameness, reluctance to walk, pus filled abscess on the pad of the foot etc.

It can be caused by excess weight, wrong perching, wrong landing or jumping down from a high place, improper weight distribution etc.

What to do if a turkey bites you?

You won’t be getting a disease as a result of that bite so there’s no need to fret but you need to know why the turkey bit you in order to decide what to do next.

If it bit you just to get your attention and it isn’t a regular thing, then it isn’t a problem.

If the turkey however shows signs of aggression and goes on biting you, other humans and animals, then it may sick and needs care.

If it isn’t sick, then you properly spoilt it. It’s been so used to humans that it sees them as other turkeys and is trying to show dominance.

Male turkeys usually exhibit this behavior.

It is better to have it culled or sold with full disclosure.

It should not be bred so it won’t pass down its aggressiveness.


Birds do not get rabies because they aren’t mammals.

This means turkeys cannot be infected with rabies.

If they do get it however, the symptoms range from madness to timidity.

You can prevent rabies in your farm by ensuring wild animals do not get into your farm and giving your animals rabies vaccinations.

The common diseases in turkeys are blackhead, bumblefoot, fowl cholera etc. which can be cured if properly treated.

Turkey bites do not give human diseases but a turkey that bites should be monitored and culled if proven dangerous.


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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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