Help with baby duckling! Toxoplasmosis?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by PolkadotTeapot, Apr 4, 2019.

  1. PolkadotTeapot

    PolkadotTeapot Hatching

    Apr 4, 2019
    I am a preschool teacher and my centre participates in a 'hatching eggs' program, where we incubate a dozen eggs (nine chickens, three ducks) and then keep them in a brood box. We have them for two weeks, then return them to the breeder.

    One of the ducklings had a very difficult hatch, and after some research (and almost two days of attempting to free itself from its membrane and shell) I helped the duckling hatch, using warm water to soften the membrane. It was about half the size of the other duckling that hatched, and initially couldn't stand, though it wriggled around on the floor of the incubator. After the first day it had started showing improvement and was walking, but was very clumsy. We moved it to the brood box.

    It is now five days since the duckling started hatching (and three and a half since it finished), and I decided to keep it. I have set up my own brood box at home for my duckling and the two baby chicks I am also keeping.

    However, the duckling is still very clumsy, and falls over constantly. It can right itself eventually, but sometimes it gets tired and lies on its back, and it has started developing conjunctivitis from rubbing its eyes on the floor so much when trying to right itself. It is very energetic and is eating and drinking, but it is still tiny and it occasionally shakes its head from side to side, and its legs are very wobbly even when it is walking successfully.

    After some research, it sounds like it might be toxoplasmosis. Does anyone have any other suggestions as to what it could be? Or if it is toxoplasmosis, what do I need to do?
  2. sylviethecochin

    sylviethecochin Free Ranging

    Jun 14, 2017
    Central PA
    I would start by asking the breeder if they have any issues in their flock, and also what they feed their breeding stock. Because if it's toxoplasmosis, his chances aren't good unless you get him to a vet immediately. If they have TPM, they should know it's in their flock, at least by having seen ducklings previously with this condition.

    If it's a vitamin deficiency on the other hand (as I suspect; many breeder flocks from smaller farms are not fed a sufficient diet for hatching eggs) the issue should be fairly easily solved by the administration of poultry vitamins (TSC/Rural King/etc) and b-complex vitamins (available from Walmart for humans or in an injectible suspension from TSC/RK/etc. The injectable suspension can be applied orally, so don't worry about that.)

    According to,
    "The treatment calls for a drug called pyrimethamine [Prescription only] at the rate of 0.5mg/kg PO (oral) per day given in two equal doses every 12 hours for 7 – 10 days, with sulfadiazine [Prescription only] at the rate of 30 mg/kg also given orally with the daily dose split in two equal doses every 12 hours, for the same time period. I had my pharmacist combine the two in proper proportion in one liquid oral suspension that I was able to drench twice a day.

    This treatment can be highly toxic to the bird and must not be given for a period longer than 2 weeks. To alleviate some of the toxicity, the Veterinary Drug Handbook recommends that you administer folic (or folinic) acid, at the rate of 1 mg/kg/day for the duration of the treatment. I also had this put into an oral suspension – but separately."

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