Chicken can barely walk, vet is stumped! Please help? :(

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Bantam Username, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. Bantam Username

    Bantam Username Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 3, 2011
    Wiltshire, UK
    I have a hen who I got a month ago to go with my lone boy. For the first week she was fine, then she started withdrawing into herself and stopped being interested in food and water and just perched in the doorway to the coop all day.
    I started pushing her out into the run, where she'd peck and scratch for a bit before retreating huddled onto a perch. On close inspection I noticed that her head was missing some feathers and was scabby where the roo had been pulling her around and pecking her. After time spent watching from a distance I noticed that every single time she bent her head to feed, the roo was pulling her around by her head.
    I seperated her to give her a break and she started eating and drinking again. She is painfully thin still. After two days she hadn't picked up, she was eating and drinking but remaining huddled the rest of the time and doing nothing, so I put her out on the lawn without a run and watched her carefully. She took a few wobbly steps, obviously interested but was very unsteady. After around 30 secs maximum, she sat down again and stayed put.
    Yesterday I took her to the vet who can't find anything wrong with her. Her eyes are clear and bright, her crop feels normal, her comb and face are good and red, her tongue is moist and pink, her heart and chest are clear, her droppings are normal, she doesn't appear to have egg peritonitis and she's not showing classic signs of Mareks.
    She's alert, not puffed up, eating and drinking well, I'm stumped as to what is wrong. She can barely stand or walk and props herself against the wall to feed as her legs won't hold her up or steady for long enough to do so. She is still very thin, but she's been treated for external and internal parasites and has now been on Baytril antibiotics since yesterday to see if it helps at all.
    Anyone have a clue whats up with her?

    At some point I tried giving her hen company but they immediatly sensed weakness and wouldn't leave her be, attacking her relentlessly. She hides away if she's in sight of hens. She's interested in the chicks and sits down as near them as she can when I have them out in the sunshine.
     
  2. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sorry to go against your vet's finding but it completely sounds like Mareks. She must have been stressed coming to a new environment with an unwelcoming rooster. That stress caused her immune system to drop and now she's contracted Mareks. If there is no physical injury to her back or legs, there's no reason why she wouldn't be walking. The "classic" signs of Mareks don't always present themselves. There are LOTS of threads about Mareks. You might want to read what others experienced in the way of symptoms and re-judge for yourself.

    I'm very sorry. I would like to be wrong, but stress + weight loss + the inability to walk...there's almost no where to go with that but Mareks.
     
  3. Bantam Username

    Bantam Username Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 3, 2011
    Wiltshire, UK
    But her legs aren't doing the one forward and one back thing, her droppings are normal and she's not anaemic either. Both her wings are fine. How long does Mareks take to progress?
     
  4. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    Worms can present the same way..... It's a hard call. Mareks often has the leg paralysis with it.. Moving up to the neck. I would think something else. What wormer did he give you?
    Baytril is the good stuff for infections....
     
  5. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    They usually won't have the classic "split", that primarily happens in younger birds. Mareks can take up to 4 weeks of worsening symptoms.

    It would be great it it were parasite related. And LOVE that you found she enjoys the company of chicks. Just have to be careful in case she does have something contagious. So sad...I hope this has a happy ending for you both.
     
  6. Bantam Username

    Bantam Username Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 3, 2011
    Wiltshire, UK
    I've wormed her myself. Its a spot on for mites lice and worms contains ivermectin. Her droppings are normal though, and worms normally cause diarrhea don't they? She doesn't seem to want to walk at all now, just sitting back on her hocks or bum with both her feet slightly raised in front, or when at rest, her legs are spread fairly wide. Although if I try and make her perch on my hand, she rocks backwards onto her bum but does grip my fingers a little at the same time.
    I put her on the lawn and she stood up briefly but then fell when she tried to walk and gave up and rolled back onto her hocks again with her feet lifted up in front, all toes spread out. :(
     
  7. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    Bantam Username, the rocking back on her hocks is a sure sign she has Mareks. Soon you'll need to feed her because she won't be able to eat for herself due to her legs jutting out in front. Been there, went to the vet, tried a course in steroids to get the inflammation down on the sciatic nerve (the one that's causing the paralysis you see) and eventually had to put her down. As I recommended before, search the boards for others' experiences with Mareks. Some people are able to save them though it very rare. I'm really sorry for you and your hen, but I'm sure she developed Mareks from being so stressed out. Stress is the number one reason chickens acquire diseases.

    I'm truly sorry. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
  8. Bantam Username

    Bantam Username Chillin' With My Peeps

    562
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    113
    Aug 3, 2011
    Wiltshire, UK
    I think you may be right. [​IMG] I searched the boards but found nothing useful. she's also imported stock and apparently there's a higher likeliness of getting Mareks with imported stock. I guess I can only hope that she shows signs of improvement in the next couple of days. If there is none, a last trip to the vet may be called for on Saturday. [​IMG]
     
  9. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm so sorry. Losing them is never easy but dealing with Mareks is really a heart breaker. If not, initially, for the walking, it looks like they are healthy. But eventually she'll have trouble feeding herself and she'll go downhill pretty fast. We fed our hen by hand for 3 weeks, had her in a sling for a while, had rolled up towels all around her to keep her upright when we were away. It's stressful on everyone. You get really close to them when you care for them in that manner only to lose them. So many people have experienced Mareks. No matter the outcome with her, keep on reading, know as much as you can to both prevent it (keep their lives as stress free as possible) and become familiar with the 3 varieties of the disease and their signs/symptoms. Trust me, you'll watch your birds differently once you've dealt with Mareks. There are some really good (and long) threads about Mareks on BYC.

    My heart goes out to you...[​IMG]
     

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