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Marek's? Aspergillosis? Or?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by TabITSWD, Dec 20, 2015.

  1. TabITSWD

    TabITSWD Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 9, 2015
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    Hi there everybody, I don't post but have been lurking here a good while. I've found I can find out most things about chickens right here. [​IMG]

    Sadly, I have combed through a lot of internet data and I still can't come to a conclusion on two of my unwell birds. I would love to hear thoughts of everyone here. Here is my situation:
    I am still pretty new at chickens but the More-Hens Disease or Chicken Math has gotten me pretty bad so I have several groups of chickens of different ages, my younger birds are separated by gender into “grow out” pens while my more mature birds are in their own coop. The sad situation I have now is that two of my young cockerels are not able to walk properly. I separated them from the group the moment I noticed the abnormal behavior. For the first bird this was Thursday morning, for the other, it was this morning. I spend a fair amount of time with them as I feed them at daybreak, a treat in the afternoon, and then scratch for warmth around 4pm. I also enter their coops to scrape droppings boards right before I put them back up for the evening. I always look to see if everyone is moving and acting “normal” for their individual personality. The sick birds are from my grow out coop, it is a divided coop with wire running the length to make it into two halves so birds can see each other, for ease when separating females from males when they leave the indoor brooder. I normally have only pine shavings for litter but have recently added straw in attempt to cut down on dust – I am wondering if this problem is Aspergillosis? I noticed last week that the young males coop had a large area of wet litter under their waterer on change day (I deep litter full size coops but remove grow out birds litter once a week). I immediately thought “Oh no, mold!” but then there were no problems. Its been a week and a half since the wet litter chunk I pulled out (it was the size of a dinner plate so quite a bit of wet straw and wood chip).
    However, none of the birds in the grow out are vaccinated for Marek's. They are Icelandics. I hatched them and being a newb listened to other's tell me Marek's wasn't common here and I shouldn't worry about it. There are also 3 birds in with them who are 2 weeks older than them, 2 Marans and a Lemon Cuckoo Orp. When the first bird was standing weird, I thought maybe the Marans boys had hurt him while working out pecking order because they are huge (one of the Icees is crowing already and he is extra spunky/assertive so he initiates a lot of arguments). The two sick birds are Icelandics and the first one kind of shuffles around, can't stand the right way, stands exactly like a penguin. He eats well if I hold boiled yolk, or regular feed up to him and will drink if I hold it up too, but will not try to get to food or drink on his own. His poo looks normal, no diarrhea or odd color, normal amount of urate/white stuff. He is very sweet but has always been low on the peck order so I was not surprised he felt a little thin when I picked him up and brought him in for quarantine. He seems to be losing weight even this past few days though. Very thin, but eating. He has a hard time catching his breath after he moves a lot and it kills me to see that but it goes away in just a few seconds. I was unsure what to do other than electrolytes and making sure he eats and drinks. If I have to cull him I will but was hoping it could resolve. I have some medicines on hand but upon reading about Marek's and Aspergillosis I thought IF it was either of those the antibiotics would be useless as one was a virus and the other made toxins?
    The other bird I have quarantined today is different. He can't seem to get up on his legs but if I help him he can walk a few steps and will for a boiled egg. But then he lays back down, on litter, not on a perch (which is unusual for him also) and doesn't move. He is on my back porch with a gentle (50 watt) heat lamp and a small animal warmer pad inside a large plastic dog crate/kennel. The first bird is in one of my spare bedrooms in a box (easier to feed and water him by hand all day).
    Neither has the splayed leg thing that happens with Marek's. And the other 8 males in the grow out are fine. I moved the females 2 weeks ago because I got another full size coop – none of them look sick and their droppings board reveals everything is business as usual. My 6 original birds ARE vaccinated for Marek's as they are hatchery birds. Also I have 4 Legbars (one who came to me with all kinds of problems from the beginning, she was hand fed and brooded with a later group because she would not even grow into her feathers the first month and a half) who ARE vaccinated. The rest of the females I hatched out and are not vaccinated.
    Here is the info a little better organized:

    1. What type of bird , age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.)
      -two 7 week old, Icelandic males, the first is definitely thinner than most, the second, not any difference in weight from the healthy bird
    2. What is the behavior, exactly.
    -not walking around as normal, would not come for treats and upon further watching the first stands like a penguin and kind of hobbles very short distances; the second can't get up on those darned legs but can will walk for a treat if I help him stand on them
    3. How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
    -the first bird has been this way 3 days, the second bird since this morning
    4. A
    re other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?
    -these are the only two birds acting this way, the others are all wildly active as usual
    5. Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
    - No. I turned both birds on their backs and felt slowly wings, legs, keel, no signs of parasites, broken parts, bleeding or anything else.
    6. What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
    - A moldy piece in litter a week and a half ago and lack of vaccination.
    7. What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
    - Birds are on Scratch N Peck 50% Grower/50% Starter (we are in transition now to Grower). Also have one of these a day: oatmeal with a little Brewers yeast on top, some type of cos lettuce, berries, grapes, melon, hard boiled egg. Get a tiny bit cracked corn and hard red wheat on cold days.

    8. How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? Etc.
    - Poo is normal color and solid except it seems like they are large droppings, maybe he is holding it or its not moving through because of decreased body movement???
    9. What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
    -Quarantine in warm small area within a few inches of food and water. Sav A Chick Electrolyte in water. Laid towel for him to lay on since keel is so prominent. Brought mini perch inside kennel for other bird who is sick but not as thin.
    10. What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?
    -I need to treat myself – the two vets in my town “don't do much with chickens”.
    11. If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
    -I grabbed a quick shot of the first bird who is looking penguin-ish. The other doesn't look like anything he's just sitting down and not moving.
    12. Describe the housing/bedding in use
    -Pine litter with some straw on raised coop inside covered run. Run has litter floor also. Heated and unheated roost areas.



    [​IMG]




    Would you all weigh in on the following?

    1. Do I have to euthanize these two? Do they have any chance of making it?
    2. Could it be something other than Marek's or Aspergillosis?
    3. Am I going to lose all of my birds? My heart will shatter into a million pieces I am sure :(
    4. If Marek's, at what point do I end their suffering? I know if they survive they will be carriers of Marek's (I have no plans to breed or sell just home use birds) but if I cull – isn't it pointless because Marek's is on your soil ever after?
    5. Same question regarding Aspergillosis. Only, is there a way to get rid of it in the coop/run/etc?
    6. Is this correct...if its Marek's I can expect it to rip through my entire flock in all the coops but if its Aspergillosis it should only be whatever birds were exposed to mold spore in their specific coop (the young males)?
    7. I have 6 babies in the inside brooder only 6 days old right now. I hatched them, they are not vaccinated, and its too late for vaccine. So when they are old enough to go to a grow out, they will get Marek's too and die (if Marek's)?

    I have had to euthanize a bird before but it was isolated incident, bad hatchery stock. The thought of losing most of them is horrible.
    I don't want to euthanize a bird that could recover even if it is uncomfortable now, as long as it will get better. Also, I do not want any being dependent upon me to go through undue suffering no matter how much suffering that causes me. I'll do whatever should be done but I am having a hard time knowing what is the right thing. And, I am scared of what the final outcome is going to be overall, yet I need to align my expectations with the most likely scenario so my heart doesn't break anymore than necessary.
     
  2. boskelli1571

    boskelli1571 Overrun With Chickens

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    Finger Lakes, NY
    Hi there - sorry for your troubles...nice job of summation tho' [​IMG]. IMO - it does not sound like aspergillosis. I think you would be seeing a lot more respiratory issues with that.
    Given that you have several batches of birds, some vaccinated, some not - Mareks would be the most likely cause. The disease could have been brought in by any of your birds, including the vaccinated ones. Just b/c it's 'not common around here', doesn't mean it won't occur occasionally. Don't beat yourself up! There is some controversy about Mareks vaccine currently.
    If it turns out to be Mareks, the effect on your flock will depend on how hardy/resistant they are to the virus. Many people will not vaccinate, but cull birds that show signs of disease - they breed for resistance. It is possible that something else is going on also, so keep them separate for now and keep a close on all your birds.
    As far as care goes, sounds lie you have it under control! Sorry to be so vague, but it's hard to tell as yet - keep us posted please, fingers crossed! [​IMG]
     
  3. TabITSWD

    TabITSWD Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 9, 2015
    Northern Arkansas
    I will start calling around tomorrow to see how to get a blood draw and maybe send off to A&M for test for Marek's. I am awfully curious about the controversy over vaccine you mentioned, I will start reading around about it.

    What you said makes a lot of sense...building resistance over time. Thinking about that, if Icelandics are supposed to be more "genetically different" from other chickens because of their relative long isolation in Iceland, makes me think: maybe they have less resistance to many of the bugs/viruses that birds native to North America or Europe have been building resistance to for decades (or even centuries).

    Thank you. :) I've been feeling awful about not vaccinating as well as the wet litter.
     
  4. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    southern Ohio
    Welcome to BYC. Mareks cannot be diagnosed without a PCR blood test or after a necropsy by your state vet or vet college after death. There are also vitamin and mineral deficiencies in chickens, some from outdated feed or from parent stock. Leg bone or spinal deformities can be responsible for lameness and an odd upright position. There is no treatment for those. But I would give your chickens a poultry vitamin with trace minerals, and some probiotics or plain yogurt to give them an extra boost. If you lose one of the roosters or choose to cull, call the state vet to arrange for a necropsy. It would probably help to know if it was Mareks, and would ease your mind if it is not.
     
  5. Hholly

    Hholly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
  6. TabITSWD

    TabITSWD Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 9, 2015
    Northern Arkansas
    Eggcessive and Hholly, thank you.
    I am going to arrange PCR testing tomorrow so I can know what I'm dealing with.

    The link on Marek's is super helpful. But, I see there are other things it may be. I also noticed that there is a portion of vaccinated birds likely to contract it and present with signs as well. It makes me wonder if it was worth designing a vaccine based on a different species' related virus (the way Marek's virus is designed on a turkey version in the same herpes family), wasn't it worth it to manufacture an antiviral that enhances the immune system's ability to keep that virus in check while building antibodies? I know chickens aren't super high on the financial value scale but some other birds are. Since antivirals generally have a short half life, I would think there are some made for aviary use, has anyone ever heard of any?

    I know this is a weird question but do chickens run fevers when sick? Anyone know their healthy body temp?

    I think this is early into whatever it is. The first lil guy is starting to act weird with his wings though, using them like poles to help with balance.
    And the second guy is back up on his feet walking around as if nothing is wrong. My gut says keep him in quarantine for a few days, in case this is something that can get better and get worse, back and forth some. Anyone have an opinion on how long I should quarantine him if he seems to stay up on his feet? I have room for quarantining and for reintroducing later (until its a dozen of them and then I have no idea how to quarantine that many birds - hope that doesn't happen).

    I've added a vitamin to warm oatmeal and both birds devoured it and politely asked me for more. [​IMG]
     
  7. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    southern Ohio
    Here is one center that performs the PCR test. Your vet could probably send blood there or to another poultry center. Chickens do run fevers, and sometimes ruffled feathers on the neck can be a sign. I think chicken temperatures can run all over the place, from 103 to 109F, and I have read that when chickens don't eat, their body temperature will go down.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/722795/what-is-the-normal-temperature-of-a-chicken
     
  8. TabITSWD

    TabITSWD Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 9, 2015
    Northern Arkansas
    Just thought I'd post an update.

    Both birds were rapidly deteriorating with the first bird's respiratory symptoms becoming much worse VERY quickly. Yesterday, I sacrificed the two ill ones to the state livestock and poultry commission to be able to see what is going on fully with my flock. I have one more now acting oddly. I was pleased to learn that in my state the state livestock/poultry commission will do all the testing and necropsy for free for backyard flock owners. The new one acting different is not lame yet but is keeping to itself, not as active, and has those raised neck feathers. I am continuing with vitamins, electrolyte, and nutri drench for trace minerals for all groups of birds to attempt to get their immune systems at top working order.


    The state lab told me this morning that both tested negative for Mareks. They are going to continue to test and do a full workup, which they tell me takes 2 weeks or so. I guess the good news is that its not Mareks and the bad news is they acted like it may be something else contagious and advised me to sequester any birds acting unwell.

    I wish I knew something else to do right now. [​IMG]
     
  9. Hholly

    Hholly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry you had to lose the two, but it sounds like you did the right thing. Thanks for the update. Keep us posted.
     
  10. boskelli1571

    boskelli1571 Overrun With Chickens

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    Mar 7, 2011
    Finger Lakes, NY
    Sorry for your losses [​IMG] - good to know it's not Mareks. Would love to know what it is tho'....
     

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