Hen with descaled legs and repeated staph infections

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Achelois, Nov 27, 2014.

  1. Achelois

    Achelois Out Of The Brooder

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    Near on a year ago I adopted a little hen from a lady who was moving. I think she's a golden Wyandotte cross - she's not very big. What I didn't realise at the time was that she'd had problems with scaly leg mite. Call me naive, but at a glance her legs looked okay, and it wasn't until after we had her home that I realised her legs are completely descaled.

    There are no signs of mites now, but her scales haven't grown back. What that has seemed to mean is that her legs and feet are tender and susceptible to injury, and she has a couple of persistent lesions on one hock that we've tried several times to treat with surgery, soaking, iodine and Puracyn, but they keep coming back. I don't think we're getting the whole abscess as it's frightening cutting into a skinny little leg - I'm scared I'll sever something vital. Making it worse, she's been a loner since I got her and refuses to roost with the others (who free range) but gets high into a tree despite being wing-clipped, which I think is scratching her hock and making things worse. If I end up keeping her I think I'm going to rehouse her by herself on soft grass where she can't damage her feet.

    Anyway, this morning she was limping and her foot (on the same leg as we've treated before) was swollen up and warm to the touch and she has the classic bumble scabs on both sides of one toe. This is the worst I've seen her.

    I feel sad as she's a sweet little hen and a reliable layer. She's laying me an egg a day despite this horrid condition [​IMG] Is there much hope for her and her quality of life? I feel like we torture her with every treatment and my husband thinks it would be kinder to have her put to sleep. I read in a poultry magazine that once the scales on the legs are gone they never come back, but that doesn't sound right. Her feet feel as soft as my hands. She's in the foot spa right now having a soak.
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Sounds like there's some underlying issue possibly. As always, pics can help diagnose things.

    Persistent lesions could be due to the staph infection, or something in the wound, or cancer.... Or a few other things... Sores that keep coming back and don't heal are often cancerous but some viruses and so forth cause them too, but constantly wounded areas can also become cancerous later on.

    It's possible she's got something in there, like gravel or glass, and it's breaking open nonstop because her body's trying to drive it out.

    If she gets high into a tree despite being wing-clipped you've got to put a stop to that, she can't brake her fall sufficiently to avoid damage now, she may be smashing into the ground every time she gets down, which could also be breaking open those lesions and could have caused the swollen, hot leg and limping. Some chooks will be cautious once they lose their flight but many others will just keep acting on instinct, trying to use their wings to break their descent flight despite not having enough feathers any more.

    Bumblefoot sometimes does get into the system and can kill them, if it's in the leg bones she is in trouble. I'd be giving her garlic, freshly minced and raw, every day for at least two weeks, personally. It can kill a lot of infections artificial antibiotics can't, because it's not stable like them, it's unique to each plant and its environment, making it nigh impossible for bacteria etc to develop immunity to it. Too many people dismiss it out of hand but it's often a life saver. You may need stronger artificial antibiotics too but staph often just develops immunity to such, quite quickly.

    Best wishes.
     
  3. Achelois

    Achelois Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks chooks4life. My last experience with bumblefoot and antibiotics went badly. My chook came right for a while, then began limping again (it hadn't killed the infection completely after a 5 day course of Baytril) then she died of a heart attack or breathing difficulties when I held her with her head down, in my ignorance (and without anyone to help).

    It was suggested on another thread that she might still have scaly leg mite which could be causing the lesions further up on her leg. That area is not hot or swollen but that's the scab that keeps coming back; it'll be crusty and yellow and dark underneath - no pus. Some of the yellowness is from iodine.

    Her foot is hot and swollen with acute bumblefoot which has spread from her toe. I'm doing salt and iodine soaks and spraying her legs afterwards with neem & sunflower oils in case she still has mites. At the moment I have her inside, on B-vitamins and aspirin for pain, with whatever I can get her to eat - I have fermented cornmeal and flaxseed which she is turning her beak up at at the moment, but she did enjoy the kids' leftover cacao and banana porridge!

    [​IMG]
     
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Not scaly leg mite as far as I can see, no scales for them to live under and no evidence of them. They're very, very obvious by the time they're causing sufficient in the way of problems, to cause pain or visible wounds. Maybe they've gotten into her skin but I doubt it, however a coating of vaseline or olive oil would quickly take care of that.

    You could also try stockholm tar, the pure and non-additive stuff is a great painkiller but also a great disinfectant, and takes care of scaly leg mite to boot. It also kills staph on contact, and other bacteria, and is a great healing promotant. I've used it on ulcers, cysts, gangrenous fox-bites, glass splinters (somehow it draws them straight out and they vanish like magic) and a whole lot of other potentially serious issues, with great success.

    I'd take her off the aspirin, personally, it causes leukocytosis (death of white blood cells) and one thing she really needs right now is a strong immune system. In overdose aspirin can cause agranulocytosis (failure of bone marrow to make sufficient white blood cells) and aplastic anemia (deficiency or failure of production of all three blood cell types), and these sorts of conditions can be ongoing or kill outright. Aspirin isn't really made for chooks anyway. They handle pain fairly well, though for sure they do hide it when possible. Different individuals handle aspirin differently so I wouldn't risk it myself. Too many people seem to throw aspirin down animal's throats at the first sign of potential suffering and recommend others do too but I remain wary of it. However, that's just me, I'm sure it's been helpful for some. Use at own discretion I guess. ;)

    If you can at all, a vet would possibly be a good idea... She looks like she needs more than 'maybes' and 'guesstimates'. I think she may have cancer. I hope not but that's an unusual wound, and unusual wounds often turn out to be cancerous. Doesn't necessarily mean fatal but... Better to know what you're dealing with than to keep guessing. I've seen chooks riddled with cancer live for years, suffering the whole time. They sure can soldier on. I hope I'm wrong here, it's just a possibility that could do with being investigated by a vet if you can afford it.

    I've used stockholm tar against bumblefoot too, so if that's what this is, it can help with pain and infection, especially since you've got surface wounds there which makes it easier for any foreign bodies like splinters or the kernel of the bumblefoot to be drawn out. It can absorb into cores of infection despite the wounds being 'blind' or 'mouthless' too though. I've used it on myself and my animals (and wild animals too) for years now so I know for sure that it's a pain reliever as well as an infection killer, I'm not just guessing. Your hen may need more but good stockholm tar can help a lot, with a lot of things.

    Best wishes.
     
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I would check into the possibility of her having bacterial arthritis or mycoplasma synovitis because of her swollen joints. She definitely could use some antibiotic therapy and probably a vet who could give strong ones. Here are a couple of links to read:
    http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/pou...infectious_skeletal_disorders_in_poultry.html
    http://www.canadianpoultry.ca/cms_pdfs/AviaTech_Staph.pdf
     
  6. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    If that's staph, and I think it is, I would put her on an antibiotic, and use Epsom salts in very warm water, and dip a rag and hold it on her leg and foot twice a day.

    Be careful with your hands. You can get the staph and touch your eye or something.

    It also appears that she may have gotten that way from a poor immune system. After the antibiotics, I would give her vitamins and probiotics.
     
  7. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    The others gave some good replies and info. It's probably not a coincidence that the bumbled foot is on the same leg as the lesions, after all. But correlation isn't necessarily causation as we all know.

    While we're on the topic of what it might be, here's another possibility...
    Quote: Quote from the above:

    "In some cases Avian Leukosis causes bone tumours to form in the legs leading to thickened bowed legs."

    Just another potentiality, not sure how common it is but doesn't sound very common; however, Leukosis itself is pretty common, so it's worth mentioning just in case.

    I believe vets can do testing, i.e. staph cultures, which should be able to pretty rapidly let you know whether or not this is bumblefoot that's gotten into the legbones.

    Without knowing for sure what it is, treatment options are limited. The sooner possibilities can be eliminated the better.

    Best wishes.
     

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