Mycoplasma Gallisepticum / CRD / Respiratory (gurgling/rales when breathing; no other symptoms)

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by RedDrgn, May 21, 2012.

  1. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    Update #5 (June 5, 2012)

    Last evening, my DH spoke with Dr. Gast regarding our experience and test results. Since yesterday was the final day of her treatment, she was symptom free, and her feet were healing nicely, he recommended returning her to the flock. We asked about testing the rest of the flock, but he said it wouldn't serve any purpose unless we first isolated each of them from each other for MG's incubation period, and then tested, and then culled every one that had it. Since our chickens never leave our property and we would rather not cull anyone when they're not even acting sick, it wouldn't serve us much purpose.

    He also confirmed what his colleague had said about the strain she had being common to our area in both wild and outdoor domestic bird populations. However, he also provided the number to the Commonwealth Veterinarian's office where Persephone sample was analyzed as he said they'd be able to tell us more with regards to the distribution.

    So after speaking with Dr. Gast, he called the Vet's office (and actually got through). The Vet reported that MG is not easily classified as a wild or domestic strains due to various strain's prevelenance and distrubution in some areas. They did say that what Persephone had turned up more often in northern VA (which we're 5 minutes from the border of) wild bird populations than domestic, but was still extremely common in both. They also mentioned something that we had not heard/encountered regarding MG thus far: some chickens carry very mild forms of MG as part of their normal body flora the same way that some humans carry Staph aureus. They suggested that this was likely the case with Persephone, that she has always had it (and always will), but that it actually posed very little risk to other chickens/birds or herself due to its apparent low virulence. This was due to the fact that no other flockmates had yet exhibited any symptoms, which very much surprised Dr. Gast and the Commonwealth Vet. They reported that had this been MG introduced to the flock from an outside source, we would've had multiple (if not all) birds showing symptoms within one week.

    So what does it all mean to us? Well, we packed Persephone off to the flock again last night (and she was quite happy about it, but Remy was frickin' ecstatic and stayed by her side all evening). She's eating, drinking, and laying like she always has, except now she can roam the yard and run through the creek and dig up my gardens with the rest of the flock again. We're planning to keep keeping our chickens outside, so I guess we'll always be running the risk of someone picking up a more virulent strain of MG, but such as it is and for what we do with our chickens (hobby/pets), we don't see any point in culling all or any one of them at this time.

    Of course, we will continue to monitor everyone.

    Update #4 (June 4, 2012)

    Many apologies for the delay, but what a clusterf**k it was to get our test results last week! [​IMG]

    We live in WV, but are dealing with a VA vet (they're located a whole 10 miles from us just over the border). So when the vet took the blood sample and put it in the hands of one of the techs to send to their lab, our address apparently asploded their brains; they sent it to the wrong lab (one who was not certified to perform the test). So as per usual lab process, that lab forwarded it onto the VA Commonwealth Veterinarian's lab. What that meant was a two day delay, because it didn't get to the lab who could run it until Saturday (May 26th). They ran the sample, then reported it back to the lab that had forwarded it to them on Tuesday (May 29th). It wasn't until that evening that our vet found out what had happened (they had no received word yet), and then the lab didn't want to report the result because the chain of custody was for Dr. Gast (and he was on vacation all last week). [​IMG]

    So they managed to get a hold of Dr. Gast on Thursday night and he called the lab to release to results to his office on Friday. I was traveling from Wednesday through Saturday, so I couldn't share here anyway...hence the ridiculous delay.

    So the final verdict is that Persephone is POSITIVE for Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG). We asked whether it was a domestic or wild strain, and were told that this was not able to be differentiated due to its wide dispersal. What they could tell us was that it was a strain endemic to our area and the most common one found when testing domestic and wild avians throughout our region. They did note that her mild symptoms and quick recovery indicated a strain originating (somewhere along the line) from wild populations due to more domestic strains typically being significantly more virulent due to constant antibiotic exposure. We will be discussing our results and options and getting recommendations from Dr. Gast later today.

    So the bottom line is that she's got it and will have it for the rest of her life. She's still doing well, and resumed laying daily since May 31st. Her bumblefoot is also cleared up and her feet are healing well. To date, no other flock member has exhibited symptoms.

    Update #3 (May 24, 2012)

    So my DH left work early and took Persephone to see Dr. Gast, and here are the highlights of that visit:

    -Her airways are clear. He heard no gurgling, burbling, rattling etc. when he listening to her lungs.

    -Since we've had her on antibiotics for a few days now, he could not do a throat swab (and get a reliable result), so he collected a blood sample, which was being shipped that same evening to a lab for analysis of Mycoplasmas that chickens are susceptible to. We should receive results either today or Tuesday (thanks to the holiday weekend). We're hoping for today.

    -She was slightly anemic (supposedly not enough to be concerned about and likely due to whatever is ailing her) and he was concerned about her weight (which was 5lb 1oz) However, she's always been one of our two smallest chickens (our DOM being the other one). She's still eating her feed and getting all sorts of fruits and veggies and insects besides, but we were advised to make sure that doesn't change.

    -He asked about the rest of the flock and we reported what we've seen, no signs/symptoms of illness in anyone else. Everyone is behaving normally and laying regularly (even Persephone dropped another, perfectly normal egg once she was home from the vet's). This seemed to really puzzle him. He said that even with a mild strain of MG, by the time any bird showed symptoms, most of the rest of a small flock was already infected. He said that in his experience, other flock members started showing similar symptoms within 4-6 hours of the first chicken, and definitely within 24-48 hours. We were already at 5 days at this point with no one else experiencing anything like Persephone. To put it mildly, he was stumped on that point and wondered if MG was actually the issue.

    Persephone at the vet, poor chicken.
    [​IMG]

    So the good news is that maybe MG isn't our issue. The bad news is that what the heck else could it be? A ruptured air sac was brought up, but he said he would've "heard" that in her breathing, even if it occurred five days ago. Her breathing had sounded perfectly normal. For now, the plan is to wait for the test result (the wait is already killing me!). They sent my DH home with several sterile swabs, too; in case anyone else does show symptoms we are to get a throat swab and bring it to them (they're open 24/7) before treating. In the event her test comes back negative, we're going to swab the rest of the flock anyway and submit for analysis (which is subsidized by the Federal government and therefore only $5/test...news to me!) to see if anyone is carrying this nasty little bug.
    So for now, we wait. *twiddles thumbs like crazy* At this point, it's like [​IMG] If we don't know what we're dealing with, we can't make plans to deal with it (correctly). [​IMG]

    Update #2 (May 22-23, 2012)

    Within 24 hours of starting the chlortetracycline in water (sold as Duramycin-10 at our local TSC), our wellie's symptoms had significantly improved. No rales or any kind of gurgling when breathing normally. Following further treatment and cleaning of both feet for bumblefoot, minor stuffiness was noted when she panted (but only while laying on her back during treatment). She laid another, perfectly normal, egg and continues to eat, drink, and behave normally. Bumbled-feet also looks significantly better, swelling is down and both wound clear of evident pus/infection and do not seem to be bothering her.

    48 hours after beginning treatment with the Duramycin-10, no further gurgling, sniffling, rales, etc. noted, even when placed on back for treatment/cleaning of bumblefeet. Sneezed once and coughed once while panting (due to elevated heat/humidity that moved into our area). All other behavior normal; no egg today. At this time, we plan to continue to keep her in quarantine and complete the full 14 day treatment.

    We are currently waiting for the vet to get back in touch with us regarding the cost for PCR testing (which is available through their laboratory) for MG and other potential CRD-type diseases/infection. Testing requires a blood sample as a throat swab will not be sufficient for analysis of some non-MG, respiratory ailments that have an outside chance of being part of our issue.

    *BR, in quarantine on the other side of the garage due to bullying/feather picking our BA last week, is doing fine. No evidence of symptoms/infection and despite isolation, continues to lay eggs daily (I really think she's nuts). We will be starting to re-introduce her to the flock on Saturday and hopefully she will amend her ways. If not, back in quarantine for another week, and if that doesn't work, she's dinner.

    **The remaining four chickens, out in the coop/run, also exhibit no signs/symptoms of illness and continue to lay with usual frequency (excluding the roo, of course).

    Update #1 (May 21, 2012)

    My DH contacted a local livestock veterinarian who actually knows poultry (thank goodness) and laid out everything mentioned below. He believes we're dealing with a case of Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG), one of several nasties that often end up under CRD. He recommended switching treatment to chlortetracycline in her water, since the Tylan injections haven't significantly reduced symptoms yet (and apparently the injections would have yielded pretty fast results if effective). She should significantly improvement within 2-3 days, but if not we have to bring her in for a shot of Draxxin.

    However, from all of the reading on MG, she'll forever be a carrier though probably will not display any further symptoms for the rest of her life. Also, if she's got it, most if not all of the rest of the flock has it, too (or soon will). The only way to get them free of it is to cull them all...not that it'd do any good since it's apparently endemic to the area, exceedingly common in wild birds, and unless we get chickens who aren't carriers (vet mentioned that over 50% of chickens in US do carry it and it is passed through eggs to chicks) and kept them indoors, always, they're eventually going to be exposed. ARGH!! [​IMG]

    Background Story (May 19, 2012)
    On Saturday morning, our 10 month old welsummer met me at the run door with the rest of the flock (expecting breakfast), except that she was breathing like she had an epic snout full of gunk (gurgling and rattling loudly). I immediately removed her from the flock and fed/watered her separately in our quarantine cage in the garage. She ate and drank perfectly normally and poked and boked at me like nothing was wrong, other than the gurgling.

    Upon giving her a thorough once-over, my DH and I found the following - NOTHING. No eye, sinus, or nose swelling or discharge. No comb or wattle discoloration. Her feces looked normal. No parasites. She did have a bad case of bumblefoot that she had apparently been hiding very well, which we treated and are continuing to do so. While treating her, of course, she wasn't happy about being turned upside and flapped and struggled enough to get her breathing rate up, which lead to panting. While panting there was no longer any gurgling/wheezing and I took the opportunity to look down her throat; healthy pink and no sign of gapeworms.

    By that afternoon, she seemed to be breathing much better and with very little gurgling at all. She also laid an egg, which appeared to be normal. On Sunday morning, we observed no change in her condition, so we went to TSC to get Tylan and began treatment with 0.5cc injected into the breast muscle. Soaked and re-bandaged her bumblefeet that afternoon and it again caused some panting, though no evidence of struggling for breath and no comb/wattle discoloration. She sneezed once and blew a minor quantity of clear fluid on the floor.

    As of 8:45PM last night, just after dark and everyone had gone to roost, she was on her makeshift roost in her cage snoozing quietly. This morning, at 5:30AM, I checked on her before heading to work and there was a broken soft-shelled egg in the center of her cage and a second, normal egg, in the corner. Not only are the two eggs in less than 9 hours an anomaly, no one in our flock has ever laid a soft-shelled egg. But then again, maybe that's just stress-related?

    I've been reading and reading and reading, and so far, the only disease that seems to fit with what we've seen so far is avian infectious bronchitis (IB); chronic respiratory disease (CRD) seems the second best fit. But we have no experience with anything like this and could certainly be wrong.

    For now, no one else in the flock is displaying similar symptoms to the wellie, though I heard our BA cough once yesterday and she's been occasionally laying eggs with some granulation on the shells over the past two weeks (which she never did before). I could be spooking at shadows, though, because everything I read indicates that chickens don't ever truly recover from respiratory problems if they're viral and will always be carriers and should therefore be culled.

    I really don't want to have to kill our six chickens. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012
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  2. MadHens

    MadHens Chirping

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    I can't offer any answers as I am going through something similar with my 3-week old chicks. My situation started about a week ago with one of the chicks sneezing and sounding raspy. I put Sulmet in their water and have been treating them all for the past week. The first one cleared up within 48 hours of the antibiotic, but a second chick started with the same symptoms about 4 days ago and still has symptoms but seems to have lessened somewhat. I think my situation started when I introduced a new batch of chicks to my original chicks (from different sources) and I didn't quarantine the second batch. Can you tell I'm a newbie? :(

    The thing that has me stumped (like you) is that neither of these chicks has any discharge from the eyes, nose, or beak. Behavior and eating, drinking, pooping are all normal. I'm worried like you though about the respiratory thing and how they never really recover. I'm thinking (and I could be wrong) that it's not as big of a deal to keep these chicks because I started this whole thing with the intent of just providing our family and friends with fresh eggs. We have no plans to hatch eggs (no rooster) and no plans to sell any birds - so I won't have to worry about introducing disease into someone else's flock. Of course, someone who has tons of experience could tell me otherwise. I've only been doing the "chicken thing" for 3 weeks now and I'm all stressed out!
     
  3. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    Take a look at "Update #1" that I just added to this thread. The vet my DH talked to was very helpful and informative and we plan to follow his recommendations...and I plan to keep updating this thread as we work through this. Hopefully it will turn out to be of some reference use down the road.

    If we've got MG in both of our flocks, it'd apparently be no surprise. It often does not result in eye/nose/beak discharge, but sometimes may do so (especially if secondary infections occur). Unless you practice "all-in/all-out" and your birds are indoors ALWAYS with strict biosecurity measures, there's a good chance your birds will be exposed to MG and become infected and either exhibit symptoms or forever be carriers.

    I totally understand the stress, though. In July we'll be a year into our "chicken experience" so this is our first bout of disease. We're keeping chickens for the same purpose you are and the roo strictly because I like roos. So I'm right there with you on how the heck do I fix my chickens and fix them now?! Everyone starts as a newbie, so don't sweat it. Just need to do our best to learn and not repeat mistakes.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  4. Erica

    Erica Songster

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    Hi RedDrgn,

    nobody can tell you to cull your chickens, so there's always a choice to keep them. The responsible thing would be to make it a closed flock (no birds in or out) and be fairly careful about hygiene when you go visiting friends with chickens. Any new birds, unless vaccinated, would eventually pick it up, hence the closed flock. I agree with the vet that it sounds like MG (not speaking as any sort of expert).

    On the bright side MG seems to be easily got rid when it does come time to replace the flock. I had it here and it only took 2 weeks (3 to be sure I guess) of empty pens before they were safe. I didn't disinfect, just left them fallow after a good clean (having sadly culled my birds). I've never had it since, so I doubt it's quite as easily transferred from wild sources as we're told. I don't know how things are in your area but here I found it fairly easy (once I knew who to avoid) to buy non-infected birds. Always put new birds in quarantine and watch closely; don't coddle them as you need them to be slightly stressed to show up any symptoms.

    In short, it's up to you what you do and what you're comfortable with. I would never knowingly sell or give away sick birds so for me the question was a little simpler, if upsetting.

    Good luck whatever you do.

    [​IMG]

    Erica
     
  5. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    Personally I would cull. Mycoplasma diseased birds that are carriers; stress can set off symptoms starting the snotting,sneezing, gurgling etc...all over again...it never goes away. Remember, there are mild to wild strains of the disease.
    So, if you're going to treat, treat as aggressively as possible. Use denagard in conjunction with oxine at the same time.
    http://www.denagard.com/pig-poultry-public/en/index.shtml
     
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  6. MadHens

    MadHens Chirping

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    That's great that your husband was able to talk with someone who knows about poultry. Do you happen to know the brand name of an antibiotic that has chlortetracycline in it? Sulmet (which I'm using) has sulfamethazine sodium in it. Today is day 7 of me adding this to their water and my second sick chick hasn't responded as well as the first one. She's still eating, drinking, and behaving normally, but still has the sneeze and the raspiness. I'm assuming it's probably not a good idea to keep them on an antibiotic for a long period of time. I do have some Tylan in the house, but have never used it. Was it hard to inject? How did you know you injected it in the right spot? I have some new needles that are used for insulin (they are very small needles).

    I didn't realize that keeping chickens would be this much work! I could kick myself though for not quarantining my second batch of chicks, because I'm thinking this wouldn't have happened. On the other hand, it sounds like chickens are susceptible to so many things that something is bound to happen sooner or later. So frustrating!

    Thanks for the information though. I will definitely follow this thread and hope that your chickens get better :)
     
  7. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    Well, technically people can tell me what to do, but I don't have to listen. [​IMG]

    Personally, I'm at a loss as to what to do right now. For all intents and purposes, our flock of six are pets who we have/had (I don't even know which tense to use yet) every intent of letting lives their lives to their natural end. As egg production slacked in the next 2-3 years, we were planning to either hatch a few of our own or purchase eggs or chicks. That would be entirely adequate for our needs.

    All of our hens came from Meyer Hatchery as day old chicks; the roo came from another (private) flock where he was raised for the first 5.5 months. None were ever vaccinated for MG and we did quarantine the roo prior to introduction (and we've had him for a week shy of three months now). Apparently, that doesn't mean anything and he still could've been an asymptomatic carrier. We certainly didn't do any blood testing. [​IMG]

    We do free range and we do have a lot of bird feeders around the yard (best garden/tree bug control, minus actually eating the garden contents like the chickens will, lol), so it's not impossible that they were exposed that way...or could be again.

    Then there's my natural inclination to do what's bio/ecologically best. If my chickens carry it, they could pass it back to wild birds and contribute to perpetuating the disease. Also, symptoms may recur at any time for any stress...and chickens aren't hard to provoke anyway.

    Of course, I've got a cat with feline leukemia, which works a whole lot like MG apparently does. And while we had a half dozen vets immediately tell us to cull him when he tested positive. One said we didn't really have to and that he well could live an asymptomatic, full life....he's been with us for 5 years now without a problem, but he's strictly an indoor cat.

    Thanks for the luck...this is hard. [​IMG]

    I can't argue any of that, even though it hurts. I can't believe that there's no treatment out there to eliminate this, but there really apparently isn't. I need to move into the field of medicine and design something that actually works, 100%. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2012
  8. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    Yes, it's Aureomycin at TSC. Dawg35 also recommended a cocktail of Denagard and Oxine.

    No, the Tylan isn't hard to inject, just barely into the muscle of the breast (just off of their keel) and you're done. But you've got young birds and I don't know the 1/2cc would be too much. You can also administer it orally, though. With the Tylan, treatment is 5 days, max. I'm not sure about the Aureomycin, Denagard or Oxine. Prolonged treatment definitely isn't a great idea, though. You can start killing fauna that's supposed to be present and building up resistance to certain meds in other organisms that are present.

    Keeping chickens isn't hard, technically...until something goes wrong (but that's a risk we take with anything we try). [​IMG] Yeah, stuff can and will happen, just like dogs and cats will eventually get fleas, ticks, worms, etc.

    If it is MG, quarantine may not have worked. Apparently some birds are just don't readily show any symptoms, even under stress. It can be hit or miss. But that's apparently why keeping all one age/batch of chickens together for their lives is best for biosecurity.

    I'm really hoping we can get our bird well, too, but then I'm wondering if we really do need to cull and start over (which I don't WANT to do, but what is wanted and what is needed aren't necessarily the same things).
     
  9. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    You all have to keep in mind one thing about all these antibiotics you are using or are planning to use. The mycoplasma diseases WILL eventually build resistance to whatever you give them, this includes; tylan, baytril, aureomycin, gallimycin, tetracyclines, duramycin etc etc etc...
    There isnt any resistance to denagard and no egg withdrawal. There is an initial treatment dose with denagard and a monthly preventative dose to keep the symptoms in check. Please read the link I provided and google 'denagard' for more info.
     
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  10. MadHens

    MadHens Chirping

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    Thanks for the info. dawg53. I don't think my local Tractor Supply or feed store carries Denagard. Do you know if this is something that is only available through a vet or online?
     

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