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Chicken giardia parasite infection

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

YAAAAY! I finally found a vet who properly knows chickens.After a very stressful week of monitoring my sick alpha hen, and three vet visits in one week (and $800 later), my chook has been finally diagnosed with a giardia parasite infection. I'm a bit peeved off to be honest, because the other vet earlier in the week did a poop test and told me he didn't see anything and she was just low in calcium is all, and today, a different vet in the same clinic said the tests clearly show the parasite and there was blood in her poop and she was low in everything, not just calcium (they did blood tests). So, thankfully, she's now properly diagnosed, the vet gave me clear instructions and a demonstration how to force the antibiotic tablets down her throat (looks really awful... but needs to be done) so finally, my beautiful chick chick will be on the mend now. I'm so relieved I finally know what's wrong and how to treat her. I lost a very loved chicken to egg peritonitis in November so I honestly thought this is what was happening again.


So, brings me to the question of... how the hell did she get giardiasis, and why aren't my other two chooks showing any signs or symptoms? And why the hell didn't vet # 2 pick it up on the poop test? I clear our their waterers regularly with fresh water, even wash them out with hot water and dish washing liquid. The vet recons infected sparrows may be pooping in their water??? How do I prevent this? 

post #2 of 8
My only knowledge of giardiasis comes from rescuing parrots. Yes, parrots, inside(mostly) birds can get giardiasis. How you ask? Well, a lot of people would be astounded to realize the levels of giardiasis that is acceptable in even municipal drinking water. Normally, for most healthy people and animals their bodies can deal with lower levels. A problem occurs when the water source has become overloaded for whatever reason(think of flooded water treatment plants as an example) or the person or animal already has a compromised immune system. When it shows up in a parrot flock, it is cause for isolating that bird as it is not only contagious but hard to get rid of in cages. I have never had to deal with it but have known people who have. First off, it is not always shed by the body and can take several fecal swabs to finally show up. I would cut the first vet a bit of slack as your chicken might not have been shedding it during that first swab, unless the first vet has done something else that puts his diagnostic skills in question. This is what I know in application to parrots not chickens. My question is: is it not as contagious when it shows up in chickens? I am wondering why the second vet didn't tell you to isolate the affected chicken unless he thought the other two probably already have it. So I am curious how it is treated and dealt with in chickens. I agree with second vet, could have been sparrows pooping in the water or you could have had some high levels in your water or even a hen who was immune compromised. Giardia is everywhere in the environment and the number one thing you are likely to pick up from drinking from a stream outdoors. This is the first mention I have seen of giardia on this forum. I assumed it wasn't often a problem for chickens as their immune systems could fight it off. Btw, it can show up in dogs and cats too from drinking outdoor water sources. But again, normally healthy animals can fight it off. Don't know if this helps....I'm off to research Giardia in chickens....something I assumed I wouldn't have to deal with.
post #3 of 8
One of our chickens had giardia. From what I understand from the vet, giardia isn't shed every time. He said we got lucky that the sample ours happened to give while at the office did contain it.
post #4 of 8
My attempts to put up the links I found in a search of this forum just didn't work. No idea what I did wrong. Search "Giardia in chickens" on this forum to get to other threads about Giardia. I continue to be suspicious of the second vet instead of the first who may have easily missed Giardia on the first go round. Are these avian vets? Or vets who have treated chickens and birds before? Just wondering. Some vets who aren't avian but have lots of experience can be just as good.
post #5 of 8
Our vet prescribed metronidazole. 50 mg 2x/day for 7 days. He said if any of our other girls had the same symptoms we could buy fish zole and break up the tablets to get the correct dosage.
post #6 of 8
Yeah, you did get lucky because I have always been told it can take multiple tries to catch it. Metronidazole is what I remembered for treatment. Thanks for the info about the Fish zole. One of the other threads mentions this too. smile.png I like your vet!

Eta: so none of your other chickens got it from the affected one?
Edited by Birdydeb - 5/8/16 at 10:01am
post #7 of 8
You're welcome. We are very fortunate to have access to veterinary care within reasonable driving distance. smile.png

None of our other girls got sick. They are free in our backyard if we're home, so if they were confined to their coop & run all the time the chances would have been greater. We did keep our sick girl confined for the week she was on medicine. I think some animals can be carriers and not get sick, so the possibility exists that they have it and we would never know.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks all for the feedback. 


I'm in suburban area, so my chicks are literally backyard chickens, so there are confined within a high fenced garden and free range there only, so there are no streams or anything. I fill up their waterers with clean tap water, the same tap water that I drink out of. So, must be the **** wild birds contaminating their water.


The vets I go to here in Auckland are exotic and wildlife specialists, so they work a lot with birds. Vet #3 yesterday did mention the other girls are highly likely to be carriers too of giardia as it's very very common with free range chickens, even backyard ones, but my other two are not showing any symptoms. But to take them in to get poop tests anyway However being that Dixie (my sick chick) had problems with soft shelled eggs last week, possibly her immune system may have compromised from that so?? Vet said there was no need to isolate her from the other chicks, but maybe to keep her inside over night to keep her warmer and leave her outside in the morning if the weather was good (it's Autumn here but still really warm). Keeping her completely isolated would only add more stress on her. She could hear the other two clucking away this morning from inside the house and was clucking back and was getting a bit excited about going out to them. Was very cute, as soon as I put her up on a high ledge in the covered run this morning (her favorite spot), one of the other chicks jumped up and snuggled up beside her while the other was was in the nesting box. She must have been glad to see her. Very


So, yep, she's been treated with metronidazole also, twice a day for 7 days. She's a very very feisty chick so was an absolute mission trying to get that pill down her this morning by myself, so I decided to disguise it by wrapping a little flattened piece of bread around it and she gobbled the whole thing down herself. Success! And I'll make some homemade electrolytes and get that into her system too with a syringe. Helps keep her hydrated while she's not properly hydrating herself. 


And thanks heaps, I will definitely look into that fish zole. 

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