2 week old cough

SarahLadd

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Jun 23, 2017
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Minneapolis, MN
Hi everyone,

I picked up two baby birds locally two weeks ago and have been brooding them inside the house. My EE chick has been making a wet cough sound every 3 to 5 minutes since yesterday. This morning when I got up to check on them and clean the water dish I noticed she had bubbles in one eye. When she coughs, more bubbles happen. It's been a few hours since I looked at her and the excess moisture and bubbles in that eye are gone and both eyes look normal, but she's still doing this cough business. Here is a video I took off this symptom.

The birds are under a lamp with floor temp at 90f. Kept on large pine shavings. Other chick showing no issues. Both chicks are active, playful, eating, drinking, normal looking poops.

Should I be concerned? searching the Web for her symptoms (bubbles in eye and cough) gives me suggestions of Mycoplasma Gallisepticum or infectious bronchitis. Neither of these things look good, if she has either of these diseases it seems like the best treatment is to destroy both chicks and purge anything they came in contact with to protect my current two adult hens.

Edit: I'd like to add that after about 15 minutes of observation, the eye bubbles come and go. She also seems to have consistently labored breathing compared to the other chick she's with... her body does a noticeably greater amount of swelling with each breath, where the other chick is nearly still when they are sleeping.

Advice appreciated.
 
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Wyorp Rock

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Is your brooder completely dry - nothing has gotten wet or moldy has it?

Bubbly eyes with a snick or cough is usually associated with respiratory illness - mainly Mycoplasma, but symptoms of respiratory illness are very similar in Infectious Bronchitits, ILT and Infectious Coryza.

She looks a little lethargic in the video - closing her eyes too? She is so little, but you can try treating her with antibiotic like Tylan50. Alternatively, if you don't want to use antibiotics, you can try VetRx just to see if that makes a difference.
If the eyes are bubbly, keep those rinsed with saline - an ophthalmic ointment like Terramycin can be used to help if the eyes become swollen or pus filled.

Try to keep your chick hydrated. I would also give her 1-2drops of Poultry Nutri-Drench daily for a week. Encourage her to eat her food.

The other chicks are already exposed, so....if no one is picking on her, then you can leave her with them or separate her out - that is up to you. Chicks/chickens do much better when they are with or near their flock mates. A separated chicken can suffer from stress, which can exacerbate symptoms.

Some people do cull all birds that are sick, santize and start over - a lot depends on your goals. If you have any plans of selling/trading/giving away hatching eggs, chicks, started pullets or showing birds, it is a good idea to have some testing and once you get the results make a decision. Respiratory illnesses do make birds and those exposed carriers for life, except for Infectious Bronchitis - this lasts up to a year, but if you add new birds during that year period, then theoretically you just keep it going.

IF these birds are for personal pleasure only and the flock is kept closed (all in/all out) - no birds ever leave your property, then you may think about managing symptoms as they arise (treating only sick birds) or cull only birds that show symptoms (birds that never show illness are still considered carriers). Have a plan for bio-security, especially if you have friends/family with their own birds and you visit one another - this helps lessen the spread of disease to other flocks, but nothing is perfect.

I hope she gets better, please keep us posted.
 

SarahLadd

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Jun 23, 2017
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Minneapolis, MN
Thanks for the reply. I keep my birds as pets, I have two adult hens that were born last year in early June so they're not quite a year old yet. These two chicks were also intended to be pets.

The brooder is dry, nothing wet. I purge bedding and replace with new every weekend.

It makes me uneasy to integrate these birds with my other two adult hens knowing what the new chicks will give them. It doesn't seem fair to my established hens... not that anything about this is fair.

It's unfortunate that this is easter weekend. I called 4 avian vets this morning and none of them were open long enough for me to reach them in time.

Husband and I have some talking and decision making to do. Any idea what the time frame is on disease progression, if it's myco? Is this something a veterinarian can positively diagnose with any kind of testing?
 
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azygous

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As @Wyorp Rock has pointed out, these respiratory illnesses are all contagious. Many of them are virus based and if the chicks now carry one of these viruses, even if you treat the symptoms and they get well, they will carry the virus from now on and can infect your other chickens.

I do know it's relatively easy to identify bacteria on a slide under a scope but I'm not sure identifying a virus is that easy. It may involve looking for DNA markers and be more expensive. Some vets might have the skills and equipment, though.

There is very little doubt the chick in the video is sick. And very little doubt it's a respiratory illness. At the risk of sounding like I'm pushing the decision on you, the safest and simplest course of action is to euthanize both chicks and sanitize everything and start over with two healthy chicks.

I would not use the same source for any future chicks. It's likely they were infected before you got them. Sanitize the shoes you wore while visiting that facility so you don't contaminate your own coop and run.
 

SarahLadd

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Jun 23, 2017
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Husband and I are at odds for what to do here.

His research has lead him to believe that around half of all chicks have respiratory illness of some kind and that we should keep the chicks and treat their symptoms and let them infect my adult birds and treat them, too. I'm heartbroken and sad, but I don't feel like this is fair to Etta and Claire.

Is it true that people just keep infected birds? What are their qualities of life like? Does the illness affect their eggs, and does the medications they'd be taking affect their eggs? I just don't know about this. If they weren't so ridiculously adorable and we were harder hearted people this would be a very simple problem to solve. I don't know what to do.
 

Eggcessive

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The chick in the video looks like it is breathing pretty heavily, and the symptoms, I agree, look like mycoplasma gallisepticum. Symptoms can show up about this age when either passed through a hatching egg or being exposed to a carrier. Have these chicks ever had any exposure to your grown birds? Have they ever had any respiratory infection symptoms in the past? I would see if the other chick develops any symptoms, and then go from there. Sorry that you are dealing with this.
 

SarahLadd

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Jun 23, 2017
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Minneapolis, MN
The chick in the video looks like it is breathing pretty heavily, and the symptoms, I agree, look like mycoplasma gallisepticum. Symptoms can show up about this age when either passed through a hatching egg or being exposed to a carrier. Have these chicks ever had any exposure to your grown birds? Have they ever had any respiratory infection symptoms in the past? I would see if the other chick develops any symptoms, and then go from there. Sorry that you are dealing with this.

No exposure to the grown birds. It's still very wintery here and I haven't been able to do much loving on my adults so I have hardly even been touching them, just collecting eggs and tossing mealies every once in a while. They are both very healthy and haven't ever been sick with anything.
 

azygous

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I'm not out to try to convince you to do something one way or the other. It's entirely your call. But the fact is that yes, you can treat these chicks and they will get well, but they will carry the bacteria in their cells and at some future date, if they get stressed or sick with something else, the bacteria can become active again and then your other chickens could get sick. It's kind of the chicken version of the human cold, but much more serious.

Any time one of these CRDs crops up in your flock, you're pretty much stuck with it. It's a real pain. And you still don't know if it's the Micoplasma bacteria or a more serious respiratory virus.

Anytime an avian virus or respiratory bacteria enters a flock, it's there to stay until all the chickens die or you butcher the flock. Yes, many of us have one or more of these viruses in our flocks, and when symptoms show up in an individual, we treat them. But we're extremely constrained on how we manage our flocks. For example, we cannot export a chicken to another flock. That would be infecting another flock if we tried to sell or swap or rehome chickens. We can't sell hatching eggs because many of these diseases pass from hen to the chick in the egg. And we have to think twice about adding to our infected flock because any new chickens will become infected as soon as they mingle with the chickens that carry the disease.

So, you see, it's a lot more complicated than just saying, oh well, when the chickens get sick we'll just treat them.
 

SarahLadd

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Jun 23, 2017
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Minneapolis, MN
These are very good talking points. DH would like to take the sick baby to one of the avian vets we are fortunate enough to have on monday, to have her diagnosed and rule out the possibility that she's "maybe too warm or has pine dust in her nose or having an off day", to quote him.

If the vet agrees that she has MG, he's agreed that it's best to have the vet put them to sleep.
 

MANNA-PRO

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