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Avian Leukosis

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by mentallygone, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. mentallygone

    mentallygone New Egg

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    May 5, 2011
    Vacaville, CA
    Hi There,
    There's suuch a wealth of information here, I haven't found many reasons to speak up till now; I've just found myself in a predicament in which I must ask advice.
    -Background-
    My husband and I moved out to the country a year and a half ago and I started my flock a few months in. We purchased our first group of 6 chicks from a feed store that receives mostly McMurray hatchery chicks, all vaccinated against Marek's. It's been quite a learning lesson, I lost 2 initially to owls while I was still building an aviary cover over the old horse corral, 2 were sexed pullets and ended up being cockerels, one became aggressive and we re-homed him. We picked up two more sexed chicks from the store a few months later, lost one to a wild animal and the other ended up being a cockerel.

    So back in October, with 2 roosters and 2 hens, we still felt the poor hens were being picked on too much, so we bought three guaranteed lavender pullets (they were older) from a local breeder. Each time we introduced little ones to our existing flock we practiced biosecurity until they were as large as the rest and we had at least a month to observe for infection/disease etc. With exception of our gender and predators, we feel we've been pretty successful so far.

    Flash forward a few weeks ago one of the lavender orpingtons developed inflammation around her eye. I initially thought it was bacterial, she had no other symptoms and responded normally, so I cleaned and bleached the coop and treated with Vetricyn until we received Terramycin ointment in the mail (all our feed stores were out so it took nearly a week to get here). Once I started treating with the terramycin, the swelling started to go down. Four days into treatment, I noticed suddenly one evening she had difficulties staying steady on my arm, and she wasn't talking. The next morning I found her dead under the roost bar I put her on that night.

    I took her to CAHFS in Davis for a necropsy, and they have come back with Avian Leukosis.

    -Predicament-
    I'm pretty sure the three younger orpingtons weren't vaccinated at all, but from what I'm reading, my older ones Marek's vaccination does not cover the strain of Avian Leukosis... so they all might be infected. My local BYC friend gave me the name of her vet I can take them to and get tested, so I intend to call on Monday.
    What I don't know is.. What I should do if all or only some are infected?
    I see some people cull their flock... if I did that, how long should I wait until starting a new flock?
    If some of these are not infected (like the older hens which are currently laying), would it be OK to keep them and just clean out/bleach the coop again?
    I'm also 8 months pregnant and will stop eating the eggs till I know for sure, but does anyone know if it's indeed unsafe to eat the eggs? (I've given some to friends a week ago, I'm worried I should call them and have them throw 'em out).

    Thank you for your time.
    (I wouldn't know what I would do without BYC)
     
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

  3. mentallygone

    mentallygone New Egg

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    May 5, 2011
    Vacaville, CA
    I thought I would at least give an update, in case anyone else has this experience, and might find this helpful.
    First, it's not transmittable to humans so the eggs are fine. It does pass vertically, so attempts to breed chicks from an infected flock will only beget more infected birds. (we aren't breeding so this wasn't an issue for us) The incubation period for leukosis is really long, some might exhibit symptoms in a few months, some might take years after they've been exposed. It's viral transmitted, so chances are by the time you find out one has it, they all have it. I had bleached the coop, but apparently it was too late. Three weeks ago we lost one of our older hens and CAHFS found it was Leukosis. Working backwards from possible incubation periods, no doubt our flock was infected by the lavender orpingtons, but I have long since lost the contact info from the breeder.
    Today one more of the lavender orpingtons is starting to get skinny and moving slow, so we're on watchout to see if she might be suffering too.. We had hoped to get a few more rescue hens to balance out our hen to rooster ratio, but we don't want to see any more animals suffer like this so we're just going to wait until they all get sick and pass, then bleach the coop again and start all over.
     
  4. missypebble

    missypebble Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 11, 2011
    I have a 1.5 years old RIR that has been going through 3 vets, trying to pin point exactly what she is going through. One vet highly thought she has reproductive tract disease and the other vet said in his opinion, she has avian leukosis.
    Can you tell me what their poops look like? Or can you provide details of early symptoms that you observed? I'm still trying to learn more about avian leukosis (symtomps, causes, prevention if any....)

    Thanks for your inputs!
     
  5. mentallygone

    mentallygone New Egg

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    May 5, 2011
    Vacaville, CA
    We really don't see any signs until it's too late, and as one vet told me, there's no real live test for it, and necropsies only help them determine where the tumor is and whether it is cancerous or viral. My chickens acted normally, had normal poops (that phase from solid to slightly watery depending on the weather and their cycle), and even were laying up till the tumors put too much stress on them, and then we lost them fast.
    The first hen was still a pullet, we thought she had a bacterial infection around the eye, but acted normally. Looking back on it, we think in the last 2 days she stopped eating and drinking because she was pretty thin. We didn't even know she had tumors until the necropsy came back with them all in her kidneys and liver. Our older hen that recently died had stopped laying about a week before, was getting skinny and in the last day really stopped eating and drinking all together. We thought she had ovarian cancer, she had a tumor that we didn't notice until she started loosing weight and it was obvious she was still pretty large in the rear. When she stopped taking water&electrolyte from an eyedropper we had to euthanize her. The necropsy came back with no cancerous cells, so they determined it to be viral. Our third hen is just beginning to lay, and then backed off about a week ago. She's still pretty healthy, we haven't noticed her loose weight yet so unlike the other two, she probably doesn't have a tumor on her vital organs yet. She does have one putting pressure on her right leg, her gait is pretty wide and she has difficulties putting weight on the leg. She also has a small one forming under her comb that we can see. During the day she hides from our rooster, but she comes into the barn to eat and drink and peck from our hands... so for now we're just going to wait and see.

    From what I've been told the only way to really deal with this is to wipe all contact with the virus (end the flock, clean the coop, and get new chicks from a healthy flock with no history). There isn't anything you can do to treat it other than make them comfortable.

    I'm sorry this isn't helpful, but hopefully your RIR doesn't have this... is she eating and drinking OK?
     
  6. missypebble

    missypebble Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 11, 2011
    I'm sorry to hear about your experience with your chickens....I'm afraid my beloved hen will have the same fate any day now. She is getting skinnier and eats/ drinks very little on her own. She acts like she's very alerted of her surrounding, but her drops are nothing but green stuff and watery. I am not sure how I'll be able to face the day when I come home or when I turn around and she will stop breathing altogether - it'll be such a heartache! Sounds to me like this type of virus is one of those deadly silent killers..... I am hoping everything will be ok with your surviving hen.
     

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