How do you know if it is Botulism?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by JWEBB, Aug 5, 2014.

  1. JWEBB

    JWEBB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    With the warm weather and in my area lots of rain its ripe season for botulism in the poultry. I had not experienced it before this summer but had two cases of it in the legbar a week ago after a bad storm then very hot weather. We had more torrential rain a day ago and its very wet outside. The culprit is dirt and or feed fines that got wet and fermented I suspect. I've started feeding in the barn and make sure to clean up any mess daily. The dirt or something else has made a problem outside. This morning a little silkie pullet is showing signs. What I noticed is:
    • They act drunk or disoriented and off balance.
    • The neck is held in a funny way. In the legbar pullet her head was literally arched and on the ground and she could not open her beak. Her crop was empty.
    • They may have paralysis in the legs, neck or other parts of the body.

    The Silkie is arching her neck and was still on her perch after the flock was let out this morning. I put her on the ground and she put wings down to keep from falling over. Drunk.

    Another sign of botulism is a bright green poop. I saw that for a good day while treating and the next day the poops turned a normal color again.

    What you need to do is help them remove the botulism toxin from their body. That is what causes the paralysis and drunkeness.

    I wish I had the thought to take some pics of what the legbar looked like while affected but I was trying at that time figure out what it was.

    There are several remedies I read but here is what I did for the other two a week ago and this Silkie this morning.

    I have no molasses to make water and flush her but I do have activated charcoal you can get at the drug store. Cage the bird and let it rest in a quiet area. If the neck is limber and down on the floor don't put a lot of bedding as the bird my suffocate. Open a capsule and make a slurry with a little water in the cup. I used a 1 ML feeding syringe and I just open the birds beak and drip the slurry onto the bottom the inside of the beak (like its a cup) from the side of the beak. Then release the beak and let them swallow. Don't force the slurry as you might get it in their lungs. Take your time. They only need a little. You can do this several times a day. By the next day the bird should be much better. The legbar it took one day and they were really bad. I kept them in iso for a extra day and offered soft food, yogurt mash and water with electrolyte (chick saver). Hope this helps.

    I think this is just beginning in the Silkie she can still hold her neck up some but really does not have control of it.

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    Just hold their head with one hand and open the beak a little. Dribble the charcoal slurry on the bottom beak as if it were a cup. Don't squirt it hard you don't want to shoot stuff into the lungs. Just dribble then release the beak and you will see them swallow.
    I mixed the contents of one capsule of charcoal mixed with 3 tablespoons water. Filled the little 1 ML feeder syringe ( no needle on it just the plastic syringe) I gave her the entire little syringe full. It took me prob 5 times of dripping into her bottom beak. Of course you gonna spill some out the beak its okay. Just get in them what you can.

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    You can use a clean eyedropper if you don't have any little syringe or you can even use a bigger one but I can't stress enough be careful and go slow just dribble it. They only need to get down a tiny bit to be effective.

    If you don't have a feeder syringe or eyedropper you can try dipping the beak in the slurry in a 2 liter soda bottle cap or something with a little depth. This is more difficult and you will need to open the beak some then dip.

    Do it several times the first day. They won't like but too bad you are saving their life. I kinda tuck the bird under my arm and with the hand on the same side hold the neck and pop the beak open. For a bigger stronger bird you might need help or put them on a table and try.

    The second day I offer wet mash made with water with a tiny little bit yogurt in it. If they don't want it give more charcoal or molasses water flush. Try to keep them hydrated and flush them.

    I saw there is a epsom salt flush you can do as well but haven not tried that.

    You can make some scramble eggs and offer on second day they should be getting hungry. If they don't just hydrate with the flush you choose and try wet mash or scramble eggs later.

    Hope this helps .
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
  2. Angiebubs

    Angiebubs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Amery, WI WI/MN border
    JWEBB: Did this work for your sick chickens? How long ago did this happen? Did you have a fecal sample done? Only reason I am asking is-what you described sounds exactly like what I went through last year. The hen walked around drunk (I thought poisoning), eventually her head started dipping under her and she was falling over, etc I sent in a fecal sample and discovered she had Cocci. Cocci does not always show up with blood in the poop) Just a thought and I wanted to share this with you in case the above treatment didn't work)
     
  3. JWEBB

    JWEBB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The two legbars got it about a week ago. They both recovered wtihin two days. I'm certain they would have died without some help. The cockerel was off his legs and drunk the pullet had it in her neck it was pitiful. I had not had it before and started looking at causes. You know you always think the worst. My friend suggest it was botulism. I looked up the symptoms and notice the bright green poop. They both had bright green poops.

    With the two legbar I was afraid I would have to send them for a necropsy. But they are fit as fiddles.

    No I did not send a fecal in but thank you that is a good idea. Generally with bad cocci I can smell it. This didn't have the smell.

    How long did your hens condition persist before the fecal smear was done? I think when a bird or any animal starts going down the cocci and other things will start to gain momentum and attack the immune system too.

    We have a hand dug well over 100 years old. I shocked it 13 years ago because the property was empty for over a decade.

    We've had rescue dogs with horrible cocci and giardia.. but they came here that way. What I'm trying to say is a little cocci and giardia are present in everything and its normal to have some in the gut flora. When it gets out of balance in the gut you have troubles, just my opinion.

    I'll update on how the little Silkie does. Of course if she does not improve I will go forward with other options but the conditions are prime for the botulism in this wet clay dirt and warm weather. Enough rain already!
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
  4. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    Some of your symptoms can be from vitamin deficiencies, lead or other poisoning, or Mareks disease, as well as other diseases. Botulism doesn't come from wet and moldy feed, but from the botulinum toxin found in decaying animals, or vegetation that has been buried or living without oxygen (anaerobic.) The symptoms are paralysis that progresses upward in the spinal nerves, so it would be common to see foot and leg paralysis, moving upward to wings, then not being able to lift the neck, and then closed eyelids, then death from paralysis of the breathing muscles. Botulism usually kills within the first 2 days, but if a chicken lives past that it may recover. It takes such a minute amount of the toxin to kill, that many times you will find the chicken dead or dying before you realize what is going on.
     
  5. JWEBB

    JWEBB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Central NY
    Yes I agree the little Silkies seem to really need extra vitamins or they do weird things with their little heads and all. This flock gets vitamins regularly. All of my flock I hatched here or they came as day old and they are all still kicking but last year my area of NY I live saw a lot of Mareks so I would not be surprised.

    It seems as you said the toxin is terribly hard on them and moves fast. These three birds are the first time I had experienced it. I was prepared for the other two to die and send them off for a test for Mareks but they rebounded within a day of treating. This weather is prime for botulism here. I don't have decaying animals or vegetation its quite the opposite with the jungle growth! who knows what she found. I'm suspecting the heavy clay dirt? I don't know I keep a close eye on them all. I have the compost pile inaccesible to them now since the first two got sick in the last storm. I found fines that had molded on the ground and I did see evidence of the chickens around the compost pile which I don't put meat products in. But they range a good size area I could surely have missed something.

    I treated the Silkie 3x today with the charcoal and offered the vitamin electrolyte mix this afternoon when she was holding her head up some and chattering to me about being caged by herself. Before bed I gave her some mash and she did eat. She was holding up her head and watching the others eat dinner. Left her caged until morning and see how little miss is.

    In the Legbar pullet it was only her neck and the closed eyes she never fell over but did not move around much of course. The legbar cockerel it was his legs badly and not so much the neck at all. Those two I did watch for a day after caging before I treated them not understanding what it was it really did move fast. Because it was just the two legbar I thought it was a breed issue at first. Thank you for the information!
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
  6. JWEBB

    JWEBB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 4, 2014
    Central NY
    And just to update they are all still alive and well ! I did change how I feed and where I feed too.

    • Botulism:
      Symptoms:
      Tremors quickly progressing to paralysis of body, including breathing; feathers pull out easily; death in a few hours.
      How contracted: Caused by a bacterial byproduct and by eating or drinking botulism-infected food or water
      Treatment: Antitoxin available from vet but expensive. If found early try 1 teaspoon Epsom salts dissolved in 1 ounce warm water dripped into crop several times a day.
      Vaccine available: None; locate and remove source, usually decaying carcass, meat near water, or insects that fed on the meat or the water the carcass is in.
     

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