Paralyzed pullet - question treatment and recovery

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by treetababy, Aug 20, 2011.

  1. treetababy

    treetababy Hatching

    Aug 16, 2011
    Hi everyone,

    I have an 8 week old, hatched myself, un-vaccinated, 1/2 free-range, organically
    fed wobbly (now paralyzed) easter egger pullet.

    From my research on the web it seems to be either Marek's in the beginning
    stages or and ear (inner ear issue), or some type of poisoning.

    Has anyone else encountered this, and have success treating it - if it is not
    not Marek's?

    I had a hen (vaccinated) who I took to the vet and later euthanized last year
    that started out similarly with the exception hers was one sided, then both legs
    went paralysed. The vet's immediate dx was Marek's then changed when I told her
    that she was vaccinated. I think it was and my hen was one of the 10% that the
    vaccine didn't work for. We tried antibiotics with her as well she
    progressively got worse.

    This little pretty pullet looked drunk in the beginning. I don't think she has gotten into
    anything that the other hens and chicks weren't exposed to as well.

    Several weeks ago she looked under the weather one day with puffed up feathers
    and head tucked in and lethargic - but the next day was fine so I am wondering
    if she caught something that has been brewing the last couple of weeks
    (including a Marek's exposure).

    My little "Gracie" can not walk or stand up. Still trying to eat, her poo looks
    normal for what she is eating.

    I am going to try to nurse her back to health but need some help with how often
    and how much should I be "force feeding her..."

    She is underweight for her age/ and "sibling hatchling" size, but she eats
    erratically. She only wants blueberries, scrambled egg and cheddar cheese. So,I
    am force feeding about 4ml at a time some of my daughter's left over
    multigrain baby cereal with H20, yogurt, added vitamins, and Hypercium (nerve
    homeopathic remedy), and silver ion.

    I have "Gracie" propped up with a towel in a U shape open at her rear, this
    allows her to eat and keep her feet underneath her rather than splayed out. She
    seems happy this way. I also am using a planter bowl as a nest with pellets and
    hay in it she seems to like that too. I will post pictures as soon as I figure
    out how to take them off my IPOD.

    I treated her with Seven for lice, so she appears lice free, and am bathing her
    tushie when the feces gets stuck daily and then heat lamping to dry and keep her

    Why am I doing might be asking. I am not sure what this is - it
    could be a number of things including Marek's. I am willing (husband too) to
    try to pull her through (have read accounts where people nursed "paralyzed"
    chickens back to health after days to weeks later - by caring for them in house.
    I have the time (stay-at-home-mom) and the will to help this little pullet. I
    kinda wonder what an alien from outer space would think we humans looked like
    with the flu - sick in bed - would look like we are dying - I think. Well that
    is what she looks like to me - but perhaps it need not be death threatening if
    she had a caretaker give her food and water and keep her comfortable.

    So my question is how often and how much should I be giving syringe food (I put
    it in the middle of her beak and let her swallow -wait until she is done then
    open beak again and add a few drops more of baby food mixture). I feel like I
    am not feeding her enough b/c she is so underweight.

    Any help will be appreciated. BTW we will euthanize if needed but right now she
    seems only distressed when she tries to walk, and is handled for bathing, when
    she is laying in her nest most of the time she seems quite content.

  2. btxchick

    btxchick In the Brooder

    Mar 7, 2011
    This exact thing happened to two of my chicks when I first got them. They were vaccinated also so I don't believe it was Marek's. I researched it quite a bit and posted on the forum for help. There were so many similar diseases out there that it was nearly impossible to pinpoint what it could be. I did what you were doing, kept them calm, fed, watered and clean (and away from the healthy chicks). It was very difficult seeing them go through all that and very time consuming ( i couldn't bring my self to euthanize). I did this for a couple weeks, I gave them antibiotics and everything. They did both end up dying. I went back to where I got them and they replaced them for me and they didn't really know what it was either and they hadn't noticed any of their's doing it but then again they have a "acceptable" amount of loss of the chicks because they are so fragile at a young age.
    Good luck, I know it's very hard and sad to go through it, but I would suggest putting them down if they can't get up because it doesn't get better and they give up.
  3. True Grit

    True Grit Songster

    Good luck to you Trisha, i'm glad you can try to help her. [​IMG]
  4. Noymira

    Noymira Songster

    Mar 9, 2011
    Chittenden County, VT
    Good luck, I hope you see improvement with the care you are willing to give. That is one lucky little bird. Not everyone would do the same.
  5. Lorimary

    Lorimary Chirping

    Apr 26, 2009
    Vista, CA 10+ years
    In terms of house much to feed - feel her crop during feeding and just keep going until she won't take anymore, you can't take anymore, or her crop is full - whichever comes first. When the crop is full, it will seem to move/shift to the right side of her chest. When it's around half full, it seems rather centered on the breast bone. How often? Check the crop every few hours and fill it up again when it's near empty. If in doubt, just feed more often and less at a time. Of course, if you ever see food coming back up, stop immediately. Hope she feels better soon!
  6. treetababy

    treetababy Hatching

    Aug 16, 2011
    Update: We are on day 11 of treating Gracie, she is still interested in food, and seems content (perhaps frustrated at not walking), but is a trooper when bathing the behind and even blow drying when she was shivering after, then content again in the heat lamp.

    When can we post pictures?

  7. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    Hi. You said you lost a chicken last year with almost the same symptoms. It does sound like Marek's, but there's no test for it.

    There's a denseness of virus that you can consider. Sometimes there's just too much virus in the living area for the vaccine to protect a bird from.

    I lost a chicken every 3-4 months for 2 years before I realized it was Marek's. I didn't know my flock had it.

    In Marek's, the paralysis is the most well know symptom, but the most common symptom is wasting away. They eat, but no matter how much they eat they continue to lose weight until they die. Some are interested in food, some just look at it, but don't eat it.

    8 weeks old is a common age to get it. Because you had another bird die last year, and this, if it's Marek's, you have it in your flock, and any added chick would have to be immunized.

    I hope your chickee improves. It's pretty sad to go thru this.

    AHDCST Songster

    Apr 17, 2011
    [​IMG] I am so glad to hear you are willing to help this little chick. I want to tell you the condensed version of the story of my little Sweet Pea. Sweet Pea appeared to have a broken leg right after she hatched. We found her and another under mom first thing in the morning. We tried splinting but she seemed more content to use her wing and good leg to get around. She ate, drank, and thumped her way to the door of the pen whenever she heard my voice. I insisted on taking care of her as long as I saw her have fight in her. Fast forward 12 weeks. Sweet Pea wasn't acting as chipper to my husband one morning. He told me he thought she might be giving up. Little did we know that she had a quarter size bedsore under her wing on the bad side. It was already black but I put the Neosporin on it and told her good night. The next morning she was burning up with fever and having seizures. I called a friend to come and get her, she had had enough and I couldn't let her suffer anymore. I wrapped her up in a towel like a baby and sat in my rocker on the porch singing You Are My Sunshine to her just like I did every night. When my friend got to my house, I said "this is it Sweet Pea" and kissed her on top of her head. She looked up at me and closed her eyes for the last time. I still here the thump-thump-thump everytime I pass the pen she was in. I said all that to say this, is it really fair to keep alive a bird that will have no kind of life? Can you stand to put so much of yourself into keeping alive a bird with no hope of getting better? Who are you keeping her alive for, her or yourself? Think it through. I am not saying to euthanize or not. Just ask yourself these questions and decide what is best for both of you.
  9. treetababy

    treetababy Hatching

    Aug 16, 2011
    UPDATE! We have hit week 5 and are on the up swing of recovery. Gracie atrophied quite a bit, but is eating well and attempting to walk again, with a lot of flopping around. She is gaining some weight as well.

    I just bathed and blow dried her today and she was fairly ravenous afterward and ate down a scrambled egg and a few blueberries.

    To those who want to know why I am doing this - several reasons.

    1. I don't believe that every time an animal (as well as human) looks deathly ill - they will die. Many times it just takes some time and care for the illness to pass then the animal or human is just fine. I don't think many people can or will take that time to take care of a chicken b/c it is really time consuming - like caring for a seriously ill person.

    2. I can see this little pullet is a fighter - she purrs to me and is quite interested in her surroundings. SHE hasn't given up. She is fighting to stand again and can scoot herself around the kiddy pool I have her in (in the garage) and as well when she gets grass time. She will move herself up to 6 feet away.

    3. I have read a number of accounts online where someone's very sick paralyzed chicken survives and recovers albeit a couple of months of recovery.

    4. If/ and when (I am hopeful) she recovers and lives out the rest of her life, it will be worth seeing her first and last egg.

    5. Everyday there is improvement.

    6. Lastly - I have a sister (53 yrs) that was in a very serious car accident when she was 15, brain damage and coma for 3 months. Her doctor told my mom to forget she had this one that she had 3 others at home. My mom was presistant with her care of my sister - doing physical therapy and talking to her comatose daughter for hours a day. My sister woke and had to relearn to walk, talk, dress, eat - it was a long hard road to recovery, but she is alive and well. She definitely has some issues with memory and residual brain damage, but she has ridden horses, dated men, smoked, drank, went back to school and lives a decent life considering what she has went through.
    I know a human and a chicken are worlds apart on the ethics scale - that we don't go through the measures we do with humans with most animals, but why not if we have the time and resources to do so.

    If she gives up I will help her go over the rainbow bridge, but she hasn't quit trying to eat. The only reason I "force fed" was b/c she was a one point too weak and uncoordinated to eat much - and that has all passed now so I don't regret it a bit.

    When the time comes I will post what I did to help her recover with pictures.

  10. AZBootsie

    AZBootsie Songster

    Nov 10, 2010
    Congress, AZ
    My Coop

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