Lethargy, yellow diarrhea, progressing to death

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by emilysrad, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. emilysrad

    emilysrad Out Of The Brooder

    May 21, 2012
    Oakland, CA
    A couple weeks ago one of my 6 hens was just not being herself. She hasn't laid in over a year, and is probably 3 years old, or more. She was just being lethargic, not greeting me in the morning, not being her usual bossy noisy self. Her symptoms gradually got worse and worse until she just died. In her last few days she didn't seem to be eating, and her eyes were sunken. No outward discharge except the yellow diarrhea. She was quarantined for about a week before she died, and she's been buried since last week.

    Today another one of my 5 remaining hens started showing the same symptoms. She's another non-layer, but I really don't want it to spread to my layers! She is a little lethargic and has yellow diarrhea on her bum. She is still eating and a bit active, but I still quarantined her. Also, her feet are a little scaley which I didn't notice on the first hen (which I may have overlooked). I looked at her skin and it looks white and I didn't see any bugs.

    I'm going to deep clean the coop and move the run this week to hopefully avoid further spreading this problem, but I wonder if anyone knows what could be causing it? Also, if it spreads to one of my layers, what could I do about it?

    Other potentially helpful information: I live in an urban neighborhood so strangers can access the chicken run easily, so foreign matter (i.e. poison) could be causing it. Also I opened a new bag of scratch grains recently. It smells and looks normal but who knows...

    Thanks for any info or suggestions!
  2. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2012
    She may be dehydrated from the runny poo. Look closely for any little tiny red mites. They wont live one the chickens but on the roosts and come out at night to feed on the chickens. Look around the vent to see if there are globs of crusty white stuff around the feather shafts that would be lice. Are there are any other discharge or is she sneezing or coughing? Do you have any vet RX?
  3. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop
    Yellow poop in my birds has meant liver involvement. Can you post a picture of her poop?
  4. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop
    This is a cut and paste from another post of mine

    When mine get sick, this is what I do:

    • Thorough exam which includes inserting a gloved, lubed finger into the cloaca to check for an egg, check for cuts, bruising lumps etc.
    • Dust for mites/lice with poultry dust even if I cannot see any. DE does not work.
    • Weigh on digital kitchen scale (see avatar), record weight and weigh daily. any weight loss is bad.
    • Place bird in a warm, quiet place on towel with food and water that it can't drown in.
    • De-worm with Safeguard or Panacur, liquid or paste 50mg/kg by mouth and repeat in 10 days. Warning - Safeguard/Panacur (fenbendazle should not be used during a molt)
    • Once warm, if not drinking, and crop is empty, hydrate with warmed Pedialyte or lactated ringers with a feeding tube - 30ml/kg every 6-8 hours.
    • If not eating after 24 hours and crop is empty, tube feed baby bird food mixed with Pedialyte
    • Inspect poop.
    • If I suspect a stuck egg, treat for egg binding.
    • If I suspect a bacterial infection, treat with antibiotics.

    From: http://www.harrisonsbirdfoods.com/avmed/cam/07_emergency_and_critical_care.pdf
    Supportive Care
    Sick birds are often hypothermic and should be placed
    in heated (brooder-type) enclosures

    b (Fig 7.7) in a quiet
    environment (see Chapter 1, Clinical Practice). A temperature
    of 85° F (29° C) with 70% humidity is desirable
    for most sick birds. If brooders are not equipped with a
    humidity source, placing a small dish of water in the
    enclosure will often supply adequate humidity. A moist
    towel that is heated and placed on the bottom of a cage
    or incubator rapidly humidifies the environment, as indicated
    by the fogging of the acrylic cage front.

    Oral Administration
    Oral administration is the ideal method of giving fluids.
    This method is more commonly used in mildly dehydrated
    birds or in conjunction with subcutaneous (SC)
    or intravenous (IV) therapy. Oral rehydration (30 ml/kg
    PO q 6-8 h) also may be used in larger birds (eg, waterfowl)
    that are difficult to restrain for parenteral fluid

    1 person likes this.
  5. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop
    SInce you live in CA, you can send your poultry to UC Davis for free necropsies, they even let you use their FedEx number.
    1 person likes this.
  6. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop
    Although more common in turkeys and peafowl, chickens can get this:

    [FONT=TimesNewRoman,Bold][FONT=TimesNewRoman,Bold]C. HISTOMONIASIS [/FONT][/FONT]

    (Blackhead; Enterohepatitis)
    Histomoniasis is a protozoal disease caused by

    [FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic][FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic]Histomonas meleagridis [/FONT][/FONT]affecting turkeys, chickens,
    peafowl, grouse, quail and possibly other gallinaceous birds characterized by necrotizing lesions involving
    the ceca and liver.
    Histomoniasis occurs most frequently in exposed, unmedicated turkeys, especially turkeys under 3
    months of age. It also occurs in chickens and in many captive game birds. Young birds are more
    frequently and severely affected. The disease is infrequent in areas where there are no earthworms i.e.,
    where there is dry, sandy soil and where there are no vectors for transmission of histomonads.
    Histomoniasis occurs infrequently where proper measures are taken for its prevention.
    1. Histomoniasis once limited the expansion of the turkey industry. Prior to development of safe
    antihistomonal drugs, it could be controlled only by cumbersome and relatively ineffective measures
    designed to prevent exposure of turkeys to the embryonated ova of cecal worms (


    2. Significant growth of the turkey industry occurred after safe antihistomonal drugs were developed.
    The disease is now uncommon and these drugs are no longer used routinely. It occurs sporadically
    when turkeys are raised where chickens were previously located. The disease is still common in
    chickens but its effect on production is mild and rarely recognized. Histomoniasis remains an
    important cause of death among other galliformes including peafowl, pheasant and quail.
    1. The etiologic agent is the protozoan

    [FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic][FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic]Histomonas meleagridis[/FONT][/FONT], assisted by secondary bacteria. In the
    experimental absence of bacteria, the histomonad appears not to be pathogenic.

    [FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic][FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic]H. meleagridis [/FONT][/FONT]is a
    flagellate in the lumen of the cecum but assumes an ameboid form in tissue.
    2. A larger histomonad distinguished by its 4 flagella,

    [FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic][FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic]H. wenrichi[/FONT][/FONT], also occurs in the cecum but is not
    Transmission of

    [FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic][FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic]H. meleagridis [/FONT][/FONT]to susceptible birds is possible via three routes:
    1. Ingestion of fresh feces. This route probably is relatively unimportant except for spread within a flock.
    2. Ingestion of embryonated cecal worm ova containing the protozoan. Within these resistant ova the
    histomonad can survive for years.

    [FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic][FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic]H. meleagridis [/FONT][/FONT]is liberated in the intestine when ingested ova hatch,
    then invades the cecal wall and initiates the disease.
    3. Ingestion of earthworms containing cecal worm larvae within their tissues. Earthworms serve as
    transport hosts for the cecal worm and the cecal worm acts as a transport host for the histomonad.
    Infection results after the cecal worm larvae are liberated during digestion.
    1. Diagnosis can be made on the basis of clinical signs and characteristic lesion. Typical well-developed
    lesions are pathognomonic [

    Fig. 1; Histomoniasis; NCSU].
    2. In turkeys histomoniasis appears 7-12 days after exposure. Initially there is listlessness, moderate
    anorexia, drooping wings and yellow ("sulfur colored") feces. Head parts may be cyanotic
    ("blackhead") although they often are not. In chickens with histomoniasis there may be some blood in
    the feces.
    3. Later the affected turkey is depressed and stands with its wings drooping, eyes closed, head drawn
    close to the body. Emaciation is common in chronic cases, usually in older birds. In young turkeys
    morbidity and mortality are high, up to 100%. Older birds tend to be more resistant.
    4. Gross lesions. Bilateral enlargement of the ceca with thickening of the cecal walls [

    Fig. 2;
    Histomoniasis; UC Davis

    ]. The mucosa usually is ulcerated. The ceca often contain caseous cores
    which are yellow, gray or green and may be laminated. In chronic cases the cores may have been
    expelled. Peritonitis occurs when the cecal wall becomes perforated.
    5. Liver contains irregularly-round, depressed, target-like lesions that vary in color [

    Fig. 3;
    Histomoniasis; UC Davis

    ]. They often are yellow to gray but may be green or red. They vary greatly
    in diameter but often are 1-2 cm and may coalesce to produce larger lesions.
    6. Lesions may not be entirely typical in birds under treatment, less susceptible avian species or young
    turkeys in the early stages of the disease. In most infected flocks typical lesions usually can be found
    if an adequate number of birds are examined. In quail, cecal lesions may not occur even though
    mortality is high.
    7. Microscopically, histomonads can be found in the inflamed cecal walls and necrotic foci which
    develop in the liver. In birds killed for necropsy the agent sometimes can be identified in smears from
    the ceca or in scrapings from the margin of hepatic lesions.
    1. Histomoniasis usually can be prevented by adding antihistomonal drugs to the ration in proper dosage.
    No current preventive medication is approved in the U.S. Histostat (nitarsone) is still used in poultry
    outside the U.S. In quail, a cholinesterase inhibiting carbamate (Sevin) increases susceptibility to
    2. Control by the use of antihistomonal drugs may fail unless reasonably good sanitation is practiced.
    3. Other measures that assist in control follow:
    A. Do not keep chickens and turkeys (or other susceptible birds) on the same farm.
    B. Do not use chicken ranges for turkeys or other susceptible birds unless those ranges have been
    free of chickens for at least 4 years.

    [FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic][FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic]H. meleagridis is quickly destroyed by disinfectants and drying unless protected within
    earthworms or within the cecal worm ova. Avoid exposure to vectors. If possible, raise
    susceptible birds on sandy, dry, loose soil. Prevent access to earthworms after rains. In range
    birds, rotate ranges periodically if possible. Some operators with small lots replace the top
    few inches of soil every few years using power equipment or plow the lots to reduce the
    number of cecal worm ova and other pathogens.
    D. Reduce access of birds to their own droppings or to feed and water contaminated with
    droppings. Place feeders and waterers on large wire platforms or keep them outside of the lot
    but accessible through a wire fence.

    There is currently no approved medication for treatment of histomoniasis in food animals. Small
    groups of birds not being raised for consumption can be effectively treated individually with metronidazole
    at a dose of 30 mg/kg orally SID for 5 days. Antihelmentic treatment may help suppress the population of
    cecal worms.
    crb1487 and emilysrad like this.
  7. emilysrad

    emilysrad Out Of The Brooder

    May 21, 2012
    Oakland, CA
    No discharge from nose or mouth, coughing, or sneezing. I fed her soaked pellets this morning and she is eating fine and still has solid poo, it's just yellow and sticking to her bum (this is typical for her, though). So she has crust around her butt but it doesn't look like lice, just poop.

    I don't know what vet RX is, do you mean prescription drugs? Since she doesn't lay for us, I don't plan to put any more work into reviving her except to figure out what it is so I can prevent its spread to the other chickens.

    Casportpony, thanks for the info from the UCD site. Unfortunately most of it is over my head. I'll try to decipher *** they're talking about, but might wait til one of my layers comes down with similar symptoms. Here's a photo of her poop, it looks like the poo part is normal green, but the pee part is bright yellow. She has yellow discharge stuck to her feathers which is why I assumed she was having diarrhea, but i guess not yet.

  8. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2012
    Vet rx is something you can buy at orschelens or tractor supply to help them recover. I do agree with the possible liver issue but there may be more since this is the 2nd bird with the problem
  9. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop
    That looks like blackhead to me. Not sure what other diseases would cause that, but there probably are some. Is she losing weight?
  10. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop

    Blackhead would explain the yellow poop and second bird getting sick.

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