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One pullet dead suddenly, two others sick in different ways

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Flannery Eau, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. Flannery Eau

    Flannery Eau Out Of The Brooder

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    I just began with my first chicks in April of this year. In the first group of four, I lost one around 9 weeks from an illness that started with limping and ended with paralysis and death within 4 days. I bought two more 2-week old chicks, and lost one of those at 9 weeks of similar paralysis over the course of 4 or 5 days. It started with stumbling and imbalance and ended with spastic paralysis and the classic Merek's posturing. I assumed both were Merek's, and so I knew it was endemic to my flock. I called the farm stores where I had bought the chicks and they didn't even know what Merek's was - which told me they definitely were not vaccinated.

    All this occurred months ago, and since then I acquired two more 9-week old Easter Eggers. All have been healthy and my first started laying in September. They free range regularly and eat the regular layer pellets. I had 4 of them laying by November, but this December, bad things started happening.

    2 and a half weeks ago, my 9-month old Barred Rock started limping. She was my first layer and best layer, and also had the most inquisitive and charming personality. For the past two weeks, her limping grew worse, and at this point, she simply sits on the ground and has no use of her right leg. Her poop is normal, she is still eating and drinking, and her comb and waddles are bright red. She seems alert, but I fear that she will slowly and surely die and I expect it is Merek's. She has been moved to the "chicken palliative care unit" in my basement.
    I thought that an older pullet who had clearly been exposed to Merek's would have been immune - so am I silly to think it is Merek's? Is there anything else that would cause similar symptoms? Can Lymphoid Leukosis occur from the same virus that causes Merek's, or are they completely different viruses?

    One week ago, out of the blue, my Rhode Island Red pullet, who is 7.5 months old, was found dead under the coop. She had no symptoms leading up to this point - she was laying and eating regularly, her poop was normal, etc. Some clearish liquid had come out of her beak, but there was no signs of trauma at all. One of my 7.5 month old Easter Eggers, who had started to lay already, was found next to her and was limping on her left leg. My boyfriend put her up in the coop on the roost, and she immediately fell off like a rock. This happened two more times before she clung on enough and stayed put. The next day, she was no longer limping and has not limped since. However, she has become flat and just stands around without eating or drinking or acting like a regular chicken at all. She has also been moved to the palliative care unit, where she just stands in one place and doesn't eat or drink much at all.

    What is going on? Are all of these symptoms various expressions of Merek's, or am I too quick to blame that blasted virus? The other piece of information that may be important is that my RIR was crazy for dead mice. We have recently been catching them near the coop with regular flip traps and feeding them to the chickens. My RIR ate almost all of them - she just loved them and was able to wrestle away every mouse we threw to them. She had been eating them since the week of Thanksgiving, and had probably eaten about 8 total.

    Any ideas for causes and preventative measures in the future? I recently ordered 6 chicks that will be arriving at the end of February, and I want my flock to be healthy (and stay healthy)!!
     
  2. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    I will bump you so you can get some advise. hope this helps.
     
  3. Flannery Eau

    Flannery Eau Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 6, 2010
    St Louis
    UPDATE:

    Today, the Barred Rock has one foot forward, one back, and is flopping around. My boyfriend will humanely put her to rest before the day is out. This type of posturing makes me more sure it is Mereks - I will only get vaccinated chicks from now on!!

    There is no change in the Easter Egger - just standing there doing nothing all day long.
     
  4. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    MS is also a suspect, and can affect older birds. I'm sorry for your losses, chickens can be such simple complex creatures.... If you can have your State Dept of Animal & Ag do a necropsy on one to know for sure what is going on, best if you give them the bird alive... Often it can be done at less cost than a vet... Here it is $30 for up to 3 birds. It is very sad to do, but sometimes the best for your future flock..... Best Wishes and my heart hurts for you. [​IMG]
     
  5. jerseygirl1

    jerseygirl1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Question I have is/are - What are you feeding them, could it be a vitamin deficiency?
    I have had a few birds identical to those symptoms, where I started a vitamin regimen for a minimum of two weeks. Baby vitamins twice a day int heir beaks or vitamin and electrolytes in their water. It did work. Not saying that they didn't have Marek's but maybe this could be a vitamin deficiency. Mine birds were a few months old, not chicks.
     
  6. BigIslandChicks

    BigIslandChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] so sorry for you loss - i hope someone can help you figure out what is going on...
    [​IMG] good luck and more [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  7. Flannery Eau

    Flannery Eau Out Of The Brooder

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    St Louis
    Thanks for the replies! Verity was truly one of my favorites, but she went to her death very peacefully - I think she was ready.

    They are eating regular medicated layer feed with scratch regularly, oyster, and grit. They also get regular treats. They have been more cooped up lately due to the weather - but ventilation is good while still being weather-proof.

    I checked out the MO department of agriculture, and it doesn't seem like they have reduced-priced necropsies. I am also active in our local backyard chickens meetup group - and no one has mentioned it. When I lost the last few, I called around to various vets and veterinarian schools - and they said a necropsy would cost about $100 and would not always be conclusive. I have completed two years of medical school and am familiar with anatomy and pathology. I was thinking of doing my own autopsies (necropsies?) on the two who have now passed away. I recently ordered a Chicken Health Book that will describe diseases, anatomy, etc. in a more concise form - I find the internet is very spread out and inconclusive when searching for information on things like Mereks disease. Certainly, autopsies may not be conclusive, but if the pathology is obvious that would help me to know exactly what is going on.

    The other thing I noticed today was that the Easter Egger was wobbly - appearing drunk almost - if she moved or you held her- and had greenish liquid stuck to her tail feathers around her vent. I'm worried this is another different, yet still infectious and contagious disease. Could anyone recommend chicken vitamins and antibiotics that are easy to administer, effective, and not overly-expensive? I may want to keep some handy and feel like I am doing something to help them fight whatever it is that is attacking them.
     
  8. jerseygirl1

    jerseygirl1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Baby vitamins, liquid, without iron - I got generic from the drugstore, it was buy one, get one free. Vitamins/electrolytes, powdered version from TSC you can mix 1/4 tsp in a gallon of water.
     
  9. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    To keep on hand - Meds: Tylan 50 or 200- good for respiratory infections. Penicillian for other types. Neosporin. Vitamins - liquid childrens poly vi sol. Walmart also has some parrot vitamins for .99 in a pinch. Also Nuti Drench poultry vitamins.
     
  10. Flannery Eau

    Flannery Eau Out Of The Brooder

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    St Louis
    Thanks a lot! I need to have an "animal medicines" shoe-box right next to my own!
     

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