Neck Tumors *GRAPHIC NECROPSY PICS*

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by TexGardenGirl, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. TexGardenGirl

    TexGardenGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yesterday my 14-wk old cockerel suddenly seemed a little listless and unkempt, but still moving, drinking well and eating a little scratch. He was walking around the pen and scratching some at the leaves, but not as enthusiastic as usual. He let me catch him pretty easily (not normal), and I felt lumps in his neck. They didn't seem painful. At the time I wasn't really paying attention to what they felt like. Also (I didn't notice this until later) he had swollen ears and the skin on his face looked a little yellower than normal.
    I researched here & elsewhere for awhile, decided it was probably impacted crop, or at least getting there. We started using alfalfa hay for litter about 3 weeks ago (store was out of shavings). So I tried giving him some olive oil followed by baking soda/water solution (found recipe somewhere on here) and tried to massage it. I noticed the lumps were quite hard (though not like a rock) but decided it could be a firm wad of alfalfa. He never did vomit anything and after awhile I stopped trying. He did struggle some while I was holding him, so I still had hope. I set him up overnight in a crate indoors with shavings for litter & just some water.
    This morning he was dead. He had some diarrhea during the night, which looked fairly normal except for being runny.

    I decided to do a necropsy, mostly because I was afraid I might have done something wrong. (I'm a former vet tech and have also processed some chickens, so the procedure itself was not scary and I had a good scalpel.)

    Well, I found two huge tumors, or chains of a couple tumors each (hard to say), along his neck. It seemed to start just inside his collarbone and extended up almost to his head. They were sort of attached by thin tissue to the esophagus, but not in it or the crop. He did have some alfalfa in his crop and may have been on his way to impaction, but the tumors seemed entirely unrelated to the digestive system. His liver seemed extremely large but looked good, nice and red. I took pics, I'll try to attach shortly.

    Any ideas? His 3 sisters, along with the adult birds (separated by a fence) all look fine. Any ideas? I've tried looking up chicken tumors here and on google and am not finding anything helpful. Any feedback is appreciated.
     
  2. TexGardenGirl

    TexGardenGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    northeast of Dallas
    Here is one side just after pulling back the skin.
    [​IMG]

    Here I've removed the skin and separated the tumor from the esophagus. My fingers are under the tumor and over the rest of the neck.
    [​IMG]

    This is the neck & tumor without my hand in there.
    [​IMG]

    This is most of one tumor, cut longitudinally in half. The yellowish tissue is very firm, a lot like cartilage. A little brownish fluid came out when I cut into it - blood? Not sure.
    [​IMG]

    This is after I opened the body cavity. The neck is to the right - you can see where I've cut one tumor out and a little bit is left in the body cavity, and on the other side the full tumor is there in the shadow. But mostly what you see is liver, and the heart.
    [​IMG]

    Again, any feedback is appreciated.
     
  3. pips&peeps

    pips&peeps There is no "I" in Ameraucana

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    I would say most often when you see tumors it is mareks.
     
  4. chickensioux

    chickensioux Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Western North Carolina
    Wow, great job. As a vet tech as well, I think chickens get tumors just like any other creature. The animal hospital I worked for did not work with poultry so I don't have any idea what could have caused this. 17 wks is very young but I had a hen die at less than a year old that I found odd and had a necropsy done on her and she had a tumor on her spleen that had ruptured. I'm so sorry for the loss of your bird. I look at these posts to learn and I hope someone else comes on here and has some insight. Pips&peeps made the comment on Mareks and I would research that more if I were you. Maybe that's the answer. By doing the necropsy, at least you found out it was a tumor and nothing you did or could have done to save him. Again, sorry for the loss and you did a great job. I will follow this thread and hope to keep learning from it.
     
  5. TexGardenGirl

    TexGardenGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    pips&peeps, Marek's was also the first thing I thought of as soon as I started suspecting a tumor (even before he died) but at first I assumed it wasn't because he had no other symptoms (besides general scruffy-looking & listless for one day, but that's a symptom of everything!). I researched some more and it seems the tumors don't necessarily come with the neurological symptoms, so that's still possible. In the course of that research I ran across another chicken tumor disease (caused by a different virus than Marek's) called lymphatic leukosis. I also now think the tumors were of the thymus gland (I wasn't even sure birds had a thymus until I looked it up). They seemed to originate in the upper chest, which is wehre a normal thymus is. And since it's basically a lymph organ, a thymus tumor is consistent with either Marek's or leukosis. And, according to one source, Marek's tumors are indistinguishable from leukosis, apparently even microscopically. Apparently the only difference is one comes from T-cells, one from B-cells, and I guess that's pretty hard to distinguish?
    So, I am not sure what else to do besides keep an eye on the others. Marek's lasts forever in the environment, the leukosis virus doesn't, but I'm not sure what else I can do.
    chickensioux, thanks for the kind words. I helped necropsy my own cat (along with some other beloved clients' pets) which some people think is weird but it's part of my coping mechanism. Dive into the rational science and you forget the sadness for awhile. I also knew nothing about birds before getting my own (one vet I worked for did beak & nail trims & wing clipping on parrot-type pet birds but no actual medical care). I only know what the parts look like from processing our excess roosters a few months ago, and a lifetime of cutting up whole poultry (it's cheaper that way!) and studying, of course.
    If anyone else has anything to add, or just to back up what's been said, I'd appreciate anything. Thanks!
     
  6. pips&peeps

    pips&peeps There is no "I" in Ameraucana

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    From what I understand leukosis takes a long while to develop and kill the bird. Your bird is the prime age for mareks, and it can manifest in many different ways. It can be the leg paralysis, just sick ruffled birds that die or it can be tumors.

    Marek's virus can die off. You need to clean with oxine, expose the area to ultraviolet light (sunshine) and extreme hot and cold weather will also kill the virus. It is a hardy virus as it lies dormant in the feather dander.

    I would suggest vaccinating any new birds that you may bring on your property from now on.
     
  7. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

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    pips&peeps :

    I would say most often when you see tumors it is mareks.

    That's what I was thinking too.​
     
  8. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I'm proud of you for necropsying your rooster. Good job! I usually do that for mine as well. Sometimes, I just have to know.
     

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