Drooping head, weakness, no other symptoms

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by mrsrachel, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. mrsrachel

    mrsrachel New Egg

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    Sep 13, 2011
    I have a big flock of birds who are all healthy (aside from a mite infestation that we've just about kicked) except for one.

    On September 1st, my daughter went to enter her show chickens in the fair and they were disqualified for having mites. (Talk about a tragic day for an 11-year-old...). Yes, we knew we should have been on some kind of maintenance-DTE schedule forever, but we were cocky (haha) and since we'd never had a problem we didn't bother. Well, now we had a problem. So we asked her 4-H leaders what to do, and in accordance with their advice we powdered all 49 of our birds the next day. We changed every bit of their bedding and nest material, sprinkled it liberally with diatomaceous earth and lightly with Sevin, and used Sevin on the birds. All the birds were fine after this. A week later, last Friday, we (according to directions) treated them again, but we were out of Sevin so we used permethrin (4-H leader said it was OK to use two different treatments a week apart) and again, DTE in the bedding, on the ground, etc. (This time around there we no living mites in evidence, just some residual eggs and mess on their vents. I'm hoping that we can now keep up the aforementioned maintenance-DTE treatment and not have this problem anymore.)

    On Saturday, the day after the permethrin treatment, we found one of our hens, a utility RIR about two and a half years old and previously healthy except for the mites, standing in the coop with her head resting on the floor. We immediately isolated her in the garden. Her head was completely limp and she was considerably lethargic, but standing. The next day her head was limp and she was lethargic and not standing. (No Mareks leg-split, no one-sidedness at all, no gasp, pleasepleaseplease don't let this be Marek's.) Since then, she's improved a teeny bit each day. Today she sits with her head up except sometimes when she's asleep it will fall forward, and she kind of waddles herself around the garden to change positions, not with a hen's usual always-moving busyness. Still lethargic, but slightly less so. (Found her way into the raised tomato bed this morning, I think for the inviting shade and lovely smells.) Resists when I feed her with strengthening head movements. (Water with applesauce mixed in, using a straw with my fingertip on the end. She swallows it fine, just doesn't like having her head handled.) Turns her head to look at us when we come near her. Won't feed herself yet. Sometimes she tries to get over to the coop where her friends are, poor sweetie, and I find her sleeping near the fence.

    I haven't seen any stools after Monday, when she had diarrhea. She may be pooping where I don't see it. Her vent's a little messy. She laid an egg on Monday but hasn't since.

    She has -- I want to say a bump -- in the vertebrae of her neck. It kinks forward, just at the base of her throat, right about the area of her crop, which is empty right now because she eats so little. It has been there since I checked her on Saturday. Not sure if this is normal and it's just usually not noticeable because of a full crop, or if it's a possible sign of injury.

    I diligently check for symptoms in my other birds every time I go outside. They are all fine and perky as ever, even better than before the mite treatments. Roosters crow, hens cluck and lay, everyone scratches around and mates and has a grand time. No drooping heads or lethargy.

    Any ideas? As she's improving, I am not inclined to cull her unless I have some other reason to believe that this is a communicable disease. Injury, maybe? Stroke? Reaction to the permethrin -- maybe if she managed to eat some...? (Don't know how she would have; we were careful.)

    I'm off to give her another feeding before I eat my lunch. Any thoughts and ideas are welcome with thanks.

    Rachel
     
  2. mrsrachel

    mrsrachel New Egg

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    Sep 13, 2011
    Well, we just culled her. Or I guess, more accurately, we euthanized her, because it was at least as much for her sake as for the flock's. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I went out to feed her and couldn't find her. Finally found where she'd pushed herself into a planting bucket on its side. Picked her up, noticed a smell, thought, hmm, she must have pooped. Went to check her vent and it was seething with maggots. OK, eew, she pooped EARLIER, and the flies were really busy. Did a preliminary hose-off of her vent area - noticed, hmm, she doesn't mind me washing her vent with the hose, but she reacts when it gets on her back. Strange.

    Gave her a thorough two-bucket bath, was drying her off in the sunshine in the front yard when I noticed a nickel-sized wound near her tail feathers. (Easier to see when her feathers were wet.) There were maggots crawling in and out of the wound. Did a few tests and determined that she had no feeling from about the ribs back. I called my husband and we decided that there was no other humane thing we could realistically do. [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Isn't she a little old for Marek's? We did not preserve her body for analysis, but I'm looking into vaccination right now.

    Rachel
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
  3. t/m

    t/m Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't have any information for you as I'm only a month into this chicken stuff myself, just wanted to say I'm sorry for your loss. I wish somebody with more knowledge would have seen your post. Take care
     
  4. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    I don't think it sounds like Marek's, but you should vaccinate all new chicks from now on.
    It sort of sounds like sepsis, infection from the wound into the bloodstream.
    Sorry about your hen!
     
  5. mrsrachel

    mrsrachel New Egg

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    Sep 13, 2011
    We had an interesting theory come up today -- one of our friends wondered if she'd been snakebitten. Would explain the neurological issues she had AND the necrotic wound. (I've seen plenty of rattlesnake bites on other animals through the years, and this wound looked like that. She even behaved similarly to the small dogs and cats I've seen bitten.)
     
  6. mrsrachel

    mrsrachel New Egg

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    Sep 13, 2011
    And thank you, both of you, for your condolences. (hug)
     

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