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Neurological Degenerative Disease

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by erinraeyurkinas, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. erinraeyurkinas

    erinraeyurkinas New Egg

    Sep 22, 2016
    Hi Everyone!

    I am new to raising chickens, and purchased 5 girls in late June, who were about a month away from laying.

    My girls have a covered run and chicken tunnel that I've built for them while I am at work. When I get home, I allow them to free range until they put themselves to bed. I clean the poop out of the out everyday, and do a thorough poop cleaning from the run everyday as well. And of course the monthly scrub down and bedding change. I know birds are fragile creatures, I'm trying so hard to make sure they are healthy.

    Last Thursday, while I was doing my daily observation of the girls (alertness and comb colors) I noticed my black star (Stevie) was separated from the other girls, in fact she didn't want to leave the run to free range she stayed behind, laid down, and her comb was slightly purple. This all happened in less than 24 hours she had a bright red comb the day before and was enjoying her time outside.

    I immediately put her into isolation, she seemed to get a little better with just a boost of nutrients and probiotics. Then, Tuesday when I went to check on her first thing in the AM she wasn't using her right leg and still isn't. I took her to the vet yesterday and he said he couldn't think of the name of the disease but that he believes she has a neurological degenerative disease that will cause the paralysis eventually go to her spine. That its unlikely she can recover, but possible. And that its on the lower end of the spectrum for it being contagious. He recommended waiting a bit to see if she could pull it together. He is a wonderful vet that has treated all of our animals, but I know chickens very rarely come in, if at all before we did!

    Wondering if any of you have had this experience and know what disease this might be? I apologize if this question has already been asked and addressed.

    A few more things to add:

    -Her eyes are bright and she's still fiesty
    -She's still eating and drinking
    -I have a powder poultry probiotic/electrolyte mixed into her water
    -I'm giving her nutri-drench in a syringe (just started that 2 days ago and now its mixed in the water)
    -I have checked and checked and find no signs of mites/lice they get DE sprinkled in the run/coop/including themselves as preventive
    -I did find a tapeworm about a month ago in a very loose stool, and treated the girls with DE mixed into a batch of their feed and also they all were on dewormer (Rooster booster multi action dewormer) and I have not seen any since that one. Or any signs of other worms.
    -Her stool today now is loose and green
    -Her comb is still purple
    -She is still lame on her right leg so not moving around too much except to shift around her crate to get some bites of food.
    -She's not egg bound
    -She has no crop issues
    -Also that first night, I gave her water with some Corid in it just in case, my research was leading me to believe Coccidia then I got nervous about self diagnosing and putting unnecessary things into her body and only allowed that for a day.
    -The other girls are bright and healthy no signs of sickness (yet anyway!)

    I feel so terrible about it, and I feel like I am going nuts trying to figure out what is going on! Any extra advice/knowledge is greatly appreciated, I know that putting her down is a very likely possibility, but i've read so much about chickens bouncing back from the brink of death.


    -Erin [​IMG]

    First Day of Isolation

    Taken right now (Today makes it a full 7 days)
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  2. ladyearth

    ladyearth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 23, 2013
    could it be Marek's or newcastle.....?
    do some searches on here.
    PlusI saw video YOUTUBE , and believe mention on here of cures-herbal I believe
    others are more knowledgeable
    1 person likes this.
  3. CuckooOrpington

    CuckooOrpington Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 1, 2016

    Sorry to hear about Stevie. There is a variety of diseases that can cause paralysis. If it is Newcastle disease (though unlikely) your flock would have to be destroyed (it is a very serious disease capable of wiping out entire avian populations). I doubt it is ND though. Generally, she has a disease causing torticollis, a neurological sign. I am no vet but this is all the diseases that cause paralysis and muscle spasms (tortilcollis):

    - Chronic Fowl Cholera - a bacteria born disease common in domestic flocks, it mainly affects mature birds. Symptoms include swelling of wattles, face, lameness and twisted neck.

    - Marek's Disease - a virus, I suspect this one personally, it is found in all ages of chickens and comes in five forms.Two forms cause paralysis. Nerve form, (Neural leukosis), is sporadic and results in lack of coordination, muscle spasms, paralysis of neck, legs, or wings, weight loss, paleness, and in some cases, gasping and enlarged crop. The second form is nerve form, it isn't fatal so I don't think the vet was referring to this, it is temporary paralysis of wings, neck and legs. Mareks causes green diarrhea too.

    - Chronic Aspergillosis - a fungal infection, affects mature birds and is probably the most common fungal infection in chickens. It is caused by inhaling Aspergillosis molds, readily found in the environment on soil, grains and decaying vegetation. It thrives in warm temperatures. It usually affects chicks but can affect mature birds, it is not contagious and mainly affects the respiratory system. Birds with Chronic Aspergillosis have trouble breathing, may get watery eyes and twisted neck.

    - Botulism - a bacterial born, sporadic disease which is well known to completely paralyze the infected hen eventually. Birds are infected by clostridium botulinum if they peck at rotting vegetation/animal matter or drink contaminated water.

    - Toxoplasmosis is a coccidial protozoa, protozoa are microscopic organisms. Toxo is not well understood, it can become a host in almost any living thing, but is pretty much always spread from cat droppings (the cycle is complex so I'm not going to go into that much detail). Acute toxoplasmosis can resemble mareks, it causes paralysis, blindness, white diarrhea, sudden death and neck spasms.

    - High pathogenic Avian Influenza - the bird flu (viral), which I doubt is present in your bird, is caused by several different orthomyxoviruses. Its natural hosts are waterfowl, shorebirds and seabirds but can be found in game fowl. High path is a lot more devestating and fatal, signs of high path are sudden death, reduced eating and drinking, rapid drop in laying, quivering or paralyzed neck and death within 48 hours.

    - Ergotism - a fungal infection that affects mature fowl, it is found on a variety of grains including rye, wheat, sorguhm, spelt and others. It was so common in the 1850s farmers thought it was a natural part of the plant. It has been used to develop many antibiotics including LSD but its natural form can lead to acute ergotism when ingested by a bird. Symptoms include incoordination, trembling, neck twisting, convulsions, paralysis and death.

    - Listeriosis - Listeria monocytogenes bacteria are found in the birds intestines and around the environment on soil. It is usually spread from ruminants but doesn't normally cause any symptoms to show, however, it can surface due to stress or weakened immune system. It affects the brain and causes arching of neck or back. Feeding birds deli meat or cheeses can result in listerosis and it mainly affects growing fowl.

    - Newcastles disease - a virus that can affect any age or specie of bird. It is rare but has caused extinction of entire species in the past. It is caused by seven types of paramyxoviruses. There is three categories; velogenic, mesogenic and lentogenic. Velogenic, or exotic newcastle. It hits hard and fast so quantity of birds are affected within a short amount of time. It is the second most serious avain disease, symptoms include swelling of face, sudden death and bloody diarrhea. Mesogenic mimics respiratory symptoms (gasping, rattly breathing, watery eyes) and attacks the central nervous system leading to paralysis. Lentogenic newcastle is the most common and is usually called mild newcastle as it is not as serious. it affects the respiratory system but does not cause paralysis.

    That is all the diseases that can affect Stevie at her age (I didn't include the ones that affect chicks). Note that all fungal infections lead to ragged wing feathers unlike protozoan, bacterial and viral diseases:


    As for the dis coloured comb, that is common in most sick fowl. Just as a humans face will be dis coloured if they are sick, a chooks comb will too. The diseases listed above that affect respiratory system are the ones that are most likely to cause purple comb. Green diarrhea is common in birds that aren't eating enough or have a tapeworm infestation. I suspect Mareks as the symptoms seem to match and it causes green diarrhea too. There is many threads and websites on Mareks Disease that can help you out.

    Good luck with your hen, also you should purchase a disinfectant and clean out the coop. I recommend Virkon S - it is a pink/red powder taht you mix with water used to control many infectious diseases in both humans and chickens. A vet also told me birds are slightly immune to it and I sometimes put it in their drinking water to clean the gut prior to synbiotics. Common bleach works too.

    Fingers crossed for Stevie [​IMG]

    1 person likes this.
  4. erinraeyurkinas

    erinraeyurkinas New Egg

    Sep 22, 2016
    Thank You for the replies!

    A quick update, this morning Stevie's eyes are wanting to stay closed and she has her head up and is breathing slowly and heavily. I am suspecting she will pass soon, or if she worsens this evening we will euthanize. Such a terrible thing to see, I am new at this and I'm so sad to possibly lose a girl so soon. I've only had them for 3 months!

    I am contacting the Colorado State University diagnostic lab on procedures on submitting for a necropsy.

    How sad this is! I am suspecting Mareks as well, her symptoms are pretty spot on.

    I'm still hoping a miracle will happen today!

    As they say, its always darkest before the dawn. Pull through Stevie Girl. [​IMG]

    Thanks again everyone! I am researching Mareks now to see if there is anything else I can do for her, and what I can do for my other girls who so far show no signs of contracting this virus.

  5. erinraeyurkinas

    erinraeyurkinas New Egg

    Sep 22, 2016
    Hi All,

    An hour after I posted this Stevie started going really downhill I couldn't bare to let her suffer anymore, she could barely lift her head. A short while ago she was euthanized.

    Thanks for help and hope for Stevie.

    I learn so much everyday from you all on the forum.

  6. CuckooOrpington

    CuckooOrpington Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 1, 2016
    Sorry for your loss [​IMG] I agree that is was probably Mareks. Fortunately, it is one of the most studied diseases in chickens (plenty of books have been written on it and info is all over the web for Mareks) so there is some things you can do to protect the rest of your flock. There is a Mareks vaccine, developed from an anti tumor virus that turkeys carry and a weakened version of the Mareks virus. There is a chance that your whole flock are carriers of Mareks as it commonly infects chicks and stays dormant until the bird gets stressed out and their immune system weakens, allowing the virus to surface.

    Otherwise, Stevie was in contact with the herpes virus (the virus that causes Mareks) in her environment. This virus can be passed on from wild birds such as swallows, sparrows, doves and raptors. It is also found in mosquitoes so if there is mozzies around your pen you can purchase some 'mozzie coils' for camping and light them every afternoon to keep mosquitoes away.

    Any age of chicken can be vaccinated for Mareks, however, the vaccine won't be effective for a chicken already exposed to Mareks. Note that vaccination does not prevent the birds from carrying the virus but it prevents paralysis and tumors from forming. It also helps stop Mareks from passing to other birds. I also suggest putting crushed garlic in their water each day as garlic helps strengthen the immune system, preventing mareks and many other diseases (I do this for my pullets, they think it tastes fine).

    In fact, back when I first got chooks the first one to die was a Silver Spangle Hamburg, she got Mareks at the age of 8 months (I had had them since day olds). The rest of the flock did not get Mareks even though they could have been carriers too, so your flock isn't doomed as far as I'm concerned. Hope this helps.

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