Mystery Illness

ironsightfarm

Songster
Apr 4, 2019
132
258
136
New Hampshire
Hey all! I'm at a loss for what to do about my hen - hoping someone out there has had the same experience and can offer some advice on prognosis or helping her recover...

My 1.5 year old New Hampshire started with occasional loose stools for a few weeks, not of real concern. At the end of last week I noticed she had watery diarrhea and very dirty feathers, brought her inside to bathe her and check her out. Acting normal, and the rest of the flock was acting normal, so I chose to put her back out and monitor her. A few days later, she was a mess again. Watery diarrhea, dark green, dropped weight, and beginning to act like she just did not feel well. Brought her inside to the "infirmary" - bathed her, started electrolytes, eating and drinking normally, and loving scrambled eggs! Stools were still loose but were not longer watery. Lots of urates.

On Tuesday she was looked at by my vet. Exam was uneventful (nothing of concern physically). Stool sample sent out to be safe (in case of parasites - it has since come back negative) and started Sulfatrim 1.3ml 2x daily for 10 days (in case of infection). Wednesday she began to perk up (and has continued to do so), but stools have stayed the same. It's now been 4 days of antibiotics with no other improvement other than she appears to feel better. I am also giving her a drop of NutriDrench with each dose of antibiotics, and have continued electrolytes, alternating between that and plain water every 24 hours.

Yesterday (Friday) I let her out to free range with the flock with the hopes that being around the other girls would help to further improve her mood and give her a little boost. She loved it! But when I threw scratch down in the run to get everyone back in, she didn't eat any of it, which had me concerned as she was also not interested in eggs that morning either. She spent the day outside with the flock acting completely normal, doing her usual "chicken stuff" :)

Brought her in for the night to observe food and water intake, and she is in fact off of her food. She will, however, eat fruits and vegetables, so I have been giving her that. She is still acting normal, which is surprising to me.

The vet suggested at our visit (which I now agree with) that there may be something internal going on. We love our chickens, but xrays and bloodwork and all of the other available diagnostics are not going to be an option...so we're left wondering exactly what is happening inside her body.

Anyone out there have any insight as to what may be going on?
 

ironsightfarm

Songster
Apr 4, 2019
132
258
136
New Hampshire
Was she checked for Salmonella?
I just called my vet and it turns out that she was not - which on a side note is good to know considering I send out a fecal every 3 months and thought it was part of the results.

My vet clinic said my vet would call on Monday, and it's not something that came up during our discussion. If it is Salmonella, the Sulfatrim should treat it.
 

MysteryChicken

Enabler
May 31, 2018
27,072
54,231
1,141
East, Tawas Michigan
I just called my vet and it turns out that she was not - which on a side note is good to know considering I send out a fecal every 3 months and thought it was part of the results.

My vet clinic said my vet would call on Monday, but in all honesty it's not even something that came up?
I think you should get her tested for Salmonella. If she has it, the whole flock most likely has it, & you can get sick from it too. Salmonella does cause fatalities in flocks.
 

ironsightfarm

Songster
Apr 4, 2019
132
258
136
New Hampshire
I think you should get her tested for Salmonella. If she has it, the whole flock most likely has it, & you can get sick from it too. Salmonella does cause fatalities in flocks.
I just updated my previous reply to include that the Sulfatrim should treat Salmonella if she has it, but you're absolutely correct! I will speak to my vet on Monday, and discuss testing the entire flock so that they can be treated if needed as well.
 
Last edited:

MysteryChicken

Enabler
May 31, 2018
27,072
54,231
1,141
East, Tawas Michigan
I just updated my previous reply to include that the Sulfatrim should treat Salmonella if she has it, but you're absolutely correct! I will speak to my vet on Monday, and discuss testing the entire flock so that they can be treated if needed as well. Eggs are out for now to be safe...no one in the house has gotten sick, but if it is Salmonella I don't want to risk it.
There's different types of Salmonella bacteria. Let's hope it's not a resistant strain.
Sounds good.
 

ironsightfarm

Songster
Apr 4, 2019
132
258
136
New Hampshire
There's different types of Salmonella bacteria. Let's hope it's not a resistant strain.
Sounds good.
I'm hoping the vet did not bring it up because her lack of other symptoms and the overall health of the flock did not indicate a concern about a Salmonella infection versus completely overlooking it! Always an opportunity to learn, and I'll for sure be adding it to our fecal tests.

Thanks so much for your help!
 

MysteryChicken

Enabler
May 31, 2018
27,072
54,231
1,141
East, Tawas Michigan
I'm hoping the vet did not bring it up because her lack of other symptoms and the overall health of the flock did not indicate a concern about a Salmonella infection versus completely overlooking it! Always an opportunity to learn, and I'll for sure be adding it to our fecal tests.

Thanks so much for your help!
Yep, it's always good to learn. Here's another tip. Some birds won't show symptoms if they're carriers.
 

ironsightfarm

Songster
Apr 4, 2019
132
258
136
New Hampshire
Yep, it's always good to learn. Here's another tip. Some birds won't show symptoms if they're carriers.
I was under the impression that a true Salmonella infection in chickens wasn't common, as it's a bacteria present in the environment that's managed through good husbandry and proper hygiene...

I'm not ruling it out for my hen, as she has always been generally un-thrifty and the season change and recent molt could have left her susceptible to illness, but I'm really curious about the disease!
 

MysteryChicken

Enabler
May 31, 2018
27,072
54,231
1,141
East, Tawas Michigan
I was under the impression that a true Salmonella infection in chickens wasn't common, as it's a bacteria present in the environment that's managed through good husbandry and proper hygiene...

I'm not ruling it out for my hen, as she has always been generally un-thrifty and the season change and recent molt could have left her susceptible to illness, but I'm really curious about the disease!
If you have mice, or a contaminated water source they can contract it from those.
 

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