Duck sneezing, tongue noticeably swollen at base of tongue??


8 Years
Nov 16, 2015
I have a duck who was sneezing and assumed it was a respiratory infection that seems to plague some of my ducks, particularly during spring which it is now where I live... normally the symptoms disappear after a few days on oxytetracycline antibiotic which my vet prescribes for me to use for this purpose (and if they don’t recover on the oxytet then they get to meet my vet in person)

Anyway today I had a look in her mouth as several days on the antibiotic my vet has prescribed for me to treat ducks with these symptoms, had not had any improvement.

Duck is an adult domestic khaki campbell/runner x around 2 years of age.

Anyway the base of her tongue (as in the part of the tongue nearest the back of the throat) is noticeably swollen, something I haven’t seen before.

I wondered if it might be gapeworm, so gave her a dose of ivermectin on the skin this afternoon. She hasn’t been wormed since May. Too soon obviously to tell if that will work.

If there is no improvement by the end of the weekend I will be taking her to my vet, but was just wondering if anyone has encountered this before?

To sum it up her symptoms are only two:

A high pitched sneeze, and this swollen area at back of tongue.

None of the following symptoms. No:
  • Signs of any injury to the tongue. Not aware of any injury to her tongue though obviously I am not there 24/7 so some injury could have occurred that I don’t know about.
  • White plaque or smells or signs of sour crop or fungal infection in the mouth.
  • Her energy levels are normal, she is normally interested in food, other ducks foraging, drakes etc... normal energy levels
  • No discharge from nares, eyes, or vent
  • No stretched neck or gasping or other signs of respiratory distress. Breathing seems normal with the exception of the sneezing sounds
  • She was laying normal eggs and may still be (she is in a pen with several other ducks who for various reasons are also on oxytetracycline antibiotics and all were laying till recently now of the 4 2 are laying, however the ducks are all stopping their lay to go into their annual molt so if she has stopped laying that’s to be expected for where I live in the Southern Hemisphere).
She’s a little underweight, but possibly that is simply due to it being the end of 6 - 7 months of daily egg laying in addition to the stress of moving house during spring.
They are all being fed a combination of sprouted and head dried barley, commercial layer pellets, oyster shell grit, ‘duck mix’ mixed grains (barley, wheat, field peas, maize corn, soy, sunflower seeds) and supplemented with a commercial laying hen supplement recommended by my vet which contains b vitamins, vitamins a, e, and from memory copper, magnesium, plus blood and bone eight added to feed or given separately on water as a source of additional protein.

I did some googling and nothing matched these symptoms. Every disease which mentioned any changes in the tongue also referred to discharges from nares and/or swollen sinus’s and lots of other symptoms like lethargy, off food and water, vent discharge, bloody vent or nares, etc, ie ducks that are clearly very sick...and most also referred to highly contagious diseases.
She has been in close contact with other ducks and none are showing any of these symptoms.

So I was wondering if anyone out there has had anything like this with a chook or duck or goose and knows what it might be?
Could you try to get a video of her sneezing, and upload it here?

Does she have access to head deep water throughout the day? Would you mind sharing photos of what their kept in?
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To post a video here, you will have to upload to a different platform (YouTube, Vimeo etc) and copy the link for the video to post here.

Could you try to get a video of her sneezing, and upload it here?

Does she have access to head deep water throughout the day? Would you mind sharing photos of what their kept in?
ll try and get a video of the sneezing. She can go a day or two without dong it at all, then will have a bout of half a dozen or more sneezes all within a few minutes, so it’s a matter of being nearby with a camera at the time.

Yes she has water deep enough to dip her head in, a small paddling pool and also a small bucket which is about 8” deep- low enough for them to easily stand over and put their head in, plenty deep enough to immerse their beak and blow out their nares.

Will try and get a video.

Have had a similar sneeze in other ducks before, but every single one of them has recovered completely after a few days on oxytetracycline.

I have had some advice from a vet I spoke to online that maybe this duck and some other ducks who have had swollen hocks, might have mycoplasma and need a long course of tylosin.

However right after that discussion I got two young ducklings who got sick with respiratory symptoms, wet cough and wet mucus filled breathing. They also didn’t respond to oxytetracycline, and because I was prett sure ducks with respiratory symptoms a couple of years ago had recovered on flucloxicillin (a penicillin antibiotic) I decided out of desperation to try them on that was well given the difficulty in finding any vets with avian experience at this time of year).

Anyway they recovered on the if they had the same thing as the other ducks it can’t be mycoplasma, as mycoplasma apparently does not respond to penicillin antibiotics and a lot of others, because it has no cell wall and penicillin and some of the other antibiotics work by targeting the cell wall of bacteria.

So I am still wondering what the organism might be that is causing respiratory symptoms and swollen hocks in my flock, most respond to oxytetracycline but the occasional one does not...

Out of interest, is it true you can buy tylosin in a store without a prescription in the us? Here we cannot buy any antibiotics without a veterinary prescription.

Also it seems that some veterinary clinics discourage vets writing prescriptions that can be filled elsewhere (ie not at their own dispensing), which means that any antibiotic medications cost just over $50 in a consultation, plus a dispensing fee of around $10-$12 plus it cannot be filled at one of the better priced pharmacy’s. (I have seen drugs I paid around $100 for available in lower cost pharmacies for almost half that..same medicine, same quality, strength etc). And often you have to take the bird back more than once as the vet will start them off on a shorter course and want to see them again before prescribing more antibiotics.
I can understand their reasons for doing this as obviously antibiotic resistance from inappropriate dosing with antibiotics is a very real problem and the government and agencies here who oversee veterinary medicine use and prescribing are also pushing strongly on vets being very cautious with their prescribing of antibiotics, and they have recently also limited the amount that can be prescribed for any reason, to something like 3 or 4 months supply, so no matter how good the reason and evidence might be for a longer term course than that, a vet simply is t allowed to prescribe more than that much now...

Anyway I am curious as to what it is like for those of you in other countries, especially anyone with larger flocks, to purchase and use antibiotics, ie what is the cost, can you buy them without a prescription and is the amount or strength you can get otc very limited or expensive in comparison to having a vet prescribe it.
And for people living where you can buy antibiotics over the counter, which ones can you buy?
how much do they cost?
and are you able to get advice where you buy them to find out whether they are likely to be effective for what you are going to be using them to treat?

Is it only animal antibiotics you can buy oct?
or human ones too? (for example oxytetracycline and tylosin are pretty much only used in animals these days, while penicillins and others are often used for people as well as animals)

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