Duck Virus Hepatitis? HELP!


7 Years
Mar 29, 2012
North Carolina
Alright, I just had 4 little Welsh Harlequins hatch, I'd say it was between sunday night and monday night. They were all healthy and running around last night, eating and drinking. I woke up this morning to the only little girl on her back. When I turned her over, her neck was contorting and she was twitching. I lost her within 5 minutes. I also had this happen last year, with ducks from the store. What is it and is there anything I can do to protect the other three? They just hatched, and I can't lose any more. They just steal your heart. Please help!


ETA: From what I've read, it sounds like Duck Virus Hepatitis. Is there anything at all that I can do to keep the other 3 from dying the same way??
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I really hope it is not viral hepatitis, as I cannot find any treatment after the fact.

Give them vitamins, lots of fresh water, a warm bath. Watch, and keep us posted.

There is a vaccine. In your case, if the virus is present in any materials you used before, you may need to sanitize everything, if you have not already.
Thank you for the reply. Everything that has been used with these babies is brand new, and has never come in contact with any other ducks or chicks before them, which is why I am so confused about it. I know that we lost all but one of the Mallards from the batch from the store last year to these same symptoms, and these are Welshies. Are mallard breeds more susceptible to diseases as a whole?
Why are you calling it Duck Virus Hepatitis? do you know that's what it is? I'd deff put them on either Poultry Nutri drench or Avia 2000 for boosting their little immune systems.
Why are you calling it Duck Virus Hepatitis? do you know that's what it is? I'd deff put them on either Poultry Nutri drench or Avia 2000 for boosting their little immune systems.

After researching, it is the only thing that I found personally that matches the symptoms exactly, so that was one of the top things I was guessing. I would be thrilled to find out something different, though.

Symptoms this morning, as well as last year, in order:

  1. Found baby on her back
  2. turned her to stomach, and she started convulsing
  3. neck arches all the way back, seemingly paralyzed there
  4. falls to side, head still to back
  5. legs paddle outwards as if swimming
  6. they die within five minutes
A lot of people on this site have had the same problem and most of the time intensive vitamin therapy works. Are they crested? From what I understand, avian hepatitis is generally unusual.
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Let's hope that it is vitamins, which you can do something about. But start right away. It may be that you only noticed the extreme late-stage of the deficiency, or she was more sensitive than the others.

Do you have poultry vitamins? Niacin? Brewer's yeast?

Start with something you can control. If it is that virus, there is not much to be done from any looking around I did. If someone knows different information, I hope they check in.

How are the others looking, acting, smelling, pooping?
They aren't crested, so that can be ruled out.

I am going to head to the store soon and pick up some different remedies to try. So far, they are acting normal, eating, playing in their water, and sleeping. Even the weakest one is up on his feet and acting healthy. I will pick up some brewer's yeast, how about Poly Vi Sol? Would it be worth trying? I have added some Sav-A-Chick electrolytes to the water, as well as some sugar.
I just had two of my three baby calls die like this. It was a little different though in that it began with eye problems. The first one had a swollen sticky eye, but other than being tipsier than the others (he was a help-out hatch) seemed fine. Fine until saturday morning we found him stretched out cold in bottom of the brooder. Another duckling had the same sort of eye condition, only in one eye instead of two. He seemed ok though, so I figured the death had something to do with the help-out.
The other duck wasn't ok. Sunday afternoon he started peeping loudly the way they do when they think they've been abandoned. He hopped around peeping for about 20 min. He finally quieted down and going over to check on them, I found him limp and convulsing like you described. His body was soo very limp, and his head was twisted backwards & upside-down toward his tail. I spent the last minutes of his life on this site, desperately trying to find out what was wrong with him. He finally died in my hand. It was so sudden we were left in shock.
I never could find out what it was. I was thinking maybe aspergillosis, but I really don't know. Maybe we were hit by duck hepatitis too.
Should I be worried about my remaining duckling? his eyes are fine, and he's not in the same brooder anymore.
How would newly hatched ducklings contact a virus? The OP says all equipment is new. The 2 batches were different breeds and came from different sources, so it can't be something passed to them in the shell from their mother.

It could be a contaminated incubator, but the first batch was purchased as ducklings and they weren't hatched in her incubator.

The only thing I can think of is to be sure you aren't using the teflon coated brooder lamps. Those put off vapors that will kill birds.

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