I have/had 9 chickens in an outdoor situation ranging in age from 3-5 years. They lay maybe 2-5 eggs a day and some don't lay at all, probably due to their age. I had a 3 year old Americauna die on Monday, I thought because of dehydration - she was small and had spent most of her time in the coop over the past 6-8 months as the larger birds picked on her, and I think they were keeping her away from the water trough. I bagged her up and sent her away with the trash without checking her for disease, just figuring she had died of thirst. Then two days later another bird - a gold sex-link about 3 years old - was staggering around, being chased by the others birds and had what seemed to be a comb wound at first, but then looked like a withered comb, turning black at the back and looking necrotic. I took her out of the area with the others and put her in another area. She drank and drank as if she had also been kept from water. She did eat food I provided and seemed spunkier the next day, and kept wanting to go back to where the other chickens were, so I put her back in the yard last night. She was ok this morning, but dead by this evening. I didn't do much of an exam, but she was covered in flies which made me concerned about her level of decay. Now the other gold sex-link is looking like her comb is discolored. What sort of thing is happening to them? Do I have an epidemic? Should I be concerned about my own health? Will I lose all the chickens now?