Although IL-17 cytokines play critical roles in host defense immunity, dysregulated expression of these cytokines is associated with inflammation and autoimmune diseases. Riemerella anatipestifer is the most important infectious bacterium in the duck industry. Interestingly, not all avian species are equally susceptible to R. anatipestifer infection. This paper reports the first description of mortality rate, bacterial burden, and expression profiles of immune-related genes between ducks and chickens infected with R. anatipestifer. Ducks exhibited increased susceptibility to R. anatipestifer infection compared to chickens, as determined by mortality rate and bacterial burden. Comparative expression analyses of immune-related genes in R. anatipestifer-infected tissues obtained from both species revealed that TLR3, TLR7, IL-2, IL-4, and IFN-γ transcript levels were higher in chickens, whereas TLR4 and IL-17A transcript levels were higher in ducks. Marked increases in expression of IL-17A and IL-6, but not TGF-β, were associated with Th17 cell differentiation in duck splenic lymphocytes, but not in chicken splenic lymphocytes, stimulated with R. anatipestifer. Moreover, upregulation of IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-17A mRNA expressions, but not TGF-β, was confirmed in the liver and spleen of ducks infected with R. anatipestifer, indicating that IL-17A is strongly associated with Riemerella infection in ducks.