Could my chickens have a tapeworm?

Blackberry18

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Mar 25, 2015
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So recently, I've had an increased death rate in my flock; about five in the last month. Three were about three and half, the other two were abut one and half. I naturally became worried, so I delivered three of the bodies to a doctor at the Diagnostic Lab at a local university to perform a necrotopsy. He contacted me the same day, and said that they all died of starvation. I know that tapeworms starve their host to death, so could my birds possibly have an infestation? The doctor is currently checking for diseases, but anyone have any thoughts. Symptoms included:

- Acting peculiar only a few days before death (could have been more on a few of them)
- Decreased appetite
- Mellow and secluded
- Spasms before death (only one I saw die like that, unsure of the others)
 

Eggcessive

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I was just reading some of your previous threads, and was wondering if your chickens were vaccinated for Mareks disease? Were your hens that died still laying eggs? Both Mareks and internal laying can cause weight loss. Have you ever seen evidence of possible tapes in the droppings? I would think that if some type of worm were responsible for the deaths, that the state vet would find that. Please let us know what you find out from the necropsy reports.
 

Blackberry18

Songster
Mar 25, 2015
1,803
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Minnesota
I was just reading some of your previous threads, and was wondering if your chickens were vaccinated for Mareks disease? Were your hens that died still laying eggs? Both Mareks and internal laying can cause weight loss. Have you ever seen evidence of possible tapes in the droppings? I would think that if some type of worm were responsible for the deaths, that the state vet would find that. Please let us know what you find out from the necropsy reports.
I'm not sure if they were vaccinated again Mareks, but the vet is currently checking for diseases. They hadn't laid for a while, so I guess internal laying is possible, but would those cause death from starvation? I'd seen them eating before, so they were getting enough food. I haven't really checked the droppings a lot. Last night I did, but chicken infected with tapeworms don't excrete them all time. Plus, the dropping I checked weren't new.
 

Eggcessive

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I have a 4 year old hen right now inside with what I believe is internal laying. She recently completed a molt, and suddenly wouldn't come off the roost. When I sat her down, she was very thin, empty crop, wouldn't eat or drink, and was too weak to stand. She was vaccinated for Mareks. I will open her abdomen to look for internal laying or egg peritonitis. She had no droppings for 2 days, but today had some that was like pale cooked liquid yolk. So yes, they can starve themselves.
 

Blackberry18

Songster
Mar 25, 2015
1,803
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196
Minnesota
I have a 4 year old hen right now inside with what I believe is internal laying. She recently completed a molt, and suddenly wouldn't come off the roost. When I sat her down, she was very thin, empty crop, wouldn't eat or drink, and was too weak to stand. She was vaccinated for Mareks. I will open her abdomen to look for internal laying or egg peritonitis. She had no droppings for 2 days, but today had some that was like pale cooked liquid yolk. So yes, they can starve themselves.
I asked the vet, he said there was no internal laying in any of the birds. He's currently checking for diseases.
 

Blackberry18

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Mar 25, 2015
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Minnesota
So, the final results of the necrotopsy came back, and the primary cause of death was starvation, though the vet did find that they had a mild case of tapeworm and Capillaria nematodes. I'm providing them more food now, and currently de-worming them.
 

Eggcessive

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Capillary worms are more serious than tapeworm. Capillary worms can be treated with fenbendazole (SafeGuard, Panacur) 10% at 1/4 ml per pound of weight given orally for 5 days in a row. Tapeworms can be treated with Valbazen 1/2 ml orally and repeated in 10 days, but many prefer to use Zimectrin Gold or other drugs containing moxidexin. Here are a couple of interesting discussions by some who have treated them:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/949369/tapeworm-valbazen-ineffective-graphic-poo-video-attached
https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1010773/tapeworm-and-capillaria
 

cafarmgirl

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Mar 24, 2009
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What and how much were they being fed previously? Do they not have free choice feed available to them in a feeder? Just wondering since you mentioned providing more food now. As far as worms...a huge overload of any kind of worms can result in poor body condition and eventually death in time, but that would have been very, very obvious on necropsy. A mild case of tapes will not cause death.
 

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