Mereks? Botulism? Something Else?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by DawnHP, Oct 10, 2013.

  1. DawnHP

    DawnHP New Egg

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    Oct 10, 2013
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    I have a 3-year-old chicken. I can't remember her breed, but she used to lay light blue to almost white eggs. Her eggs were very thin-shelled and were regularly eaten or kicked out of the way. She has not been laying for about 6 months. Yesterday evening when I checked on the chickens, she had been severely pecked by the other chickens and couldn't walk. Also, her neck was bent to the right and she will regularly bend her head upside-down in this direction. We separated her as soon as we found her and placed her indoors in a dog crate. She will eat and drink, can flap her wings, and, up until this evening, could scoot herself backwards through the use of her left leg and right wing. Most of the time she lays with her feet stretched in front of her and her head on the ground to the right and her right wing outstretched. I have read about Merek's and it seems like a likely answer except that everyone refers to it as a disease of young chickens. The other chickens in our flock seem unaffected, though we are doing a thorough cleaning of the coop. There were no symptoms prior to yesterday evening and her condition seems to have become worse since we first recognized it. Does this sound like Mereks? Is there any chance that it's a vitamin deficiency? I hate to put her down, but I would also hate to leave her in this condition if she won't recover as it looks exceedingly uncomfortable.

    Thanks
     
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  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Wry neck is a condition that is a symptom of vitamin deficiency, head injury, or a disease such as Mareks. Since she was being picked on she may have been injured causing these symptoms. She also may have developed Mareks,( since any chicken can get it if they are exposed, and it is in the environment, ) and then she was attacked by the other chickens because of her weakness. I would start vitamins right away in case it is a deficiency. Chick vitamins added to water or PolyVisol baby vitamins (no iron) 2-3 drops daily by mouth. I hope she starts to get better.
     
  3. DawnHP

    DawnHP New Egg

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    Thanks. I will try the vitamins if that is a likely cause. I knew it was a possible cause of the wry-neck, but I didn't know if it could cause her to not be able to walk or stand and for it to have started so suddenly. Another of her symptoms is explosive and stinky diarrhea, although it is not particularly discolored. Whenever I go in to check on her she has her head upside down, but if I take her out and re-position her she can actually hold her head almost upright. I wonder if her head gets stuck upside down once it gets that way. She hasn't been eating a lot, but she takes a few nibbles of food if I coax her and I hold her near a lightly dripping tap and let her dip the tip of her bill to get water. Since the first night I haven't seen her take water from her dish, but she seems to take it when I put her near the tap. Thanks for the advice. I'll post if she starts to recover.
     
  4. R.M.Qureshi

    R.M.Qureshi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dear Dawn

    Partial paralysis of leg or wings.
    Moving head upside down (prostration)
    Leg or legs stretched out
    excessive thirst
    stinky droppings with white urates and greenish touch.

    These are the main symptoms of Newcastle disease. In severe attacks bird only have 52 hours from exposure to death.
    Exercise all precautions. its a highly contagious disease.
     
  5. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    Use caution, of course, but given her history of less than stellar egg laying, it well could be a vitamin deficiency at her age. Marek's is possible but I'd be more suspicious of a deficiency.

    How is she doing today? I don't want to give too much advice without knowing if she's gone downhill or not.
     
  6. toritori

    toritori Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was just wondering if you had had any developments. The pre-sickness egg situation sounds just like my Paula Dean (2 yr old Silkie) that died Saturday night. Do any of your other hens have any symptoms? Are you treating any of the other hens preventatively?
     
  7. DawnHP

    DawnHP New Egg

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    None of our other hens have shown any sign of illness or fatigue and they are still laying just fine. Angel (the sick hen) has always been at the bottom of the pecking order and hasn't laid well since we got her a year ago. We got all three hens together from their second owners. Angel was a later addition (along with another hen that died early on) to a two chick flock. All the birds are the same age and were introduced as young pullets, but she's still always been on the bottom.

    She still can't stand and she still can't control her neck at times. She doesn't seem excessively thirsty. I have been giving her eye-droppers full of water along with her vitamins. She swallows it, but doesn't act particularly eager to get more. I have seen her drink on her own when I put her back in her pen, even after giving her water with the dropper. She drinks cautiously, I presume because her neck may spasm at any moment. She hasn't eaten much that I've seen since Friday. I continue to offer her food when I check on her, but she never accepts. I offered her some grubs today and I took her out to garden with me. She was alert and upright (not standing), and she ate three of the grubs, but she didn't seem particularly interested and she left quite a few behind. When I put her back in her pen she is always upright and alert, but when I go to check on her, she usually has her head stuck underneath her body or leg. Its not a very happy position. From what I've observed she has neck and/or leg spasms that push her legs out from under her and/or her neck twists to the right and down. If she's being alert (as she usually is when I'm around), most of the time she is able to prevent her head from getting stuck down and she just flaps her wings and moves her head to get it back up. If I support her head on the right side she seems to have less trouble with it and she has no problem with me gently moving her head back up a little bit. I haven't noticed any improvement yet with the vitamins. Other than not eating, she hasn't deteriorated much either. I don't really know what to do. At this rate, starvation seems like it will be her way out with a lot of miserable time spent sitting on her head in the meantime.

    Should I expect the vitamins to take a little longer to kick in or should they have done some small amount to improve her by this point? As I said before, I don't want to keep her alive in this condition if she's not going to improve since her quality of life is so low. However, I'm not eager to declare that she won't improve as I really don't know what's wrong with her. Thanks for checking in and I appreciate all the advice. We did clean the chicken coup with bleach this weekend, so hopefully that will spare the other chickens if it is contagious, although if it's very contagious then they've already been exposed plenty when they were pecking at her before she was removed.
     
  8. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    She sounds so sad. When you read the links did you see where some people give a tiny bit of selenium? It occasionally comes with vitamin E which is the safest way to give it. Selenium iis in the soil at different levels, but it can be overdosed easily. Also some have had luck giving prednisone, but it is only by prescription from a vet.
     
  9. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    I posted this in another thread, but perhaps it will help you. It's possible that it's Marek's, or it could be something else. It sounds like your poor hen has had other, ongoing problems, so perhaps it is something else.

    Quote: Since she is so disinterested in food, try offering only nutritious favorites; and see if she will take any of them. Mealworms, scrambled egg, meat leftovers, plain yogurt, sunflower seeds, etc. Whatever food that is nutritious and that she gets excited about is better than no food at all.

    Is she drinking well?

    Do you know her history-- has she been vaccinated for Marek's disease?

    Unfortunately, if that is what she has (the symptoms fit, but that does not mean a positive diagnosis!) you can consider your entire flock infected, because the virus generally takes round 4 weeks (min) before it shows symptoms in a chicken... meaning if it is Marek's she's had it for at least a month. Have you added any new chickens in the last few months? It can also be carried in on the environment (wild birds, the wind, mice, or even our shoes if we visit an area that has the virus on the ground).
    Cleaning the coop was a good idea. The virus is spread mostly via chicken dander (dust) so it is important to eliminate as much of that as you can. Activated Oxine or Odoban are good viruicides. Odoban is shown to kill herpesvirus (Marek's is a type of herpesvirus).

    I hope this helps you in some way.
     

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