Sick hen, lethargic, high fever

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Ohio peepers, May 23, 2019.

  1. Ohio peepers

    Ohio peepers In the Brooder

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    Aug 25, 2018
    Hello, one of our girls got sick today. She kept closing her eyes and seemed lethargic. I checked her vent and did not feel an egg. She had very slight white colored watery discharge from her vent. She ate just a little bit of lettuce, she is not interested in drinking. I took her to the vet this afternoon. He checked her temp and it is 107.6 He said normal for a chicken is around 101. He said he could try an antibiotic but it might be viral and said the only antibiotic that chickens can really use is one that will make their eggs inedible for life. He suggested I try pedialyte to replace electrolytes and oregano or oil of oregano. I came home and gave her about 8 mL of water with a few drops of oil of oregano.

    He said she seems to be fairly healthy otherwise, good weight and muscle mass, feathers/skin in tact (she is one of our higher up on the pecking order).

    She keeps closing her eyes and wanting to rest (which yes a high fever feels awful!). He also suggested I massage her crop after giving her fluids which I did. Does anyone else have other suggestions? I am not soliciting medical advice and am not seeking it as we have already seen a vet but I don't know how many chickens he normally sees (probably not many).

    Thank you!! Keep our Margo in your prayers if you will!
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

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    Just for you information, serious illness with an underlying cause from an avian virus can be treated with an antibiotic as long as the secondary infection is of a bacterial nature. It's the same as a person with cancer getting an infected wound being given an antibiotic. The cancer and chemo lowered the person's immune system so they were more apt to get infections. But we all know the antibiotic won't cure the cancer. Same with a chicken with a virus.

    And while there is an egg withdrawal period where you do not want to eat her eggs, the antibiotic doesn't ruin her eggs for life. Vets may have special training and know a lot, but they don't always know much about chickens.

    The vet also wasn't very helpful regarding her crop. If she has a sour crop (yeast infection), massage is not recommended as it can cause her to vomit and aspirate some of the fluid into her lungs. She could die instantly or later from pneumonia.

    Of course, we can't diagnose your hen from out her in the internet zone, but we can gather information from you about your hen where we might be able to advise you on things you can try.

    Illness coming on suddenly can point to a toxin or parasites, a bacterial infection, or a crop disorder. Here are some questions for you:

    1. What does her crop feel like? Very full, empty, full and squishy, or full and hard and lumpy? Is there any odor perhaps like the smell of sauerkraut?
    2. What has she been eating? Scratching for worms, digging around in a compost pile where there may be rotting food, scratching around under stored yard equipment that could be leaking fluids? If she's in a run or coop all the time, does she have access to grit?
    3. What is your weather lately? Humid, warm, wet?
    4. What is the soil like? Soggy and muddy? Any standing water with scum around the edges?
    5. When was the last time she laid? Was she regularly laying? Good egg shell quality or does she have a problem with thin shells or shell-less eggs?
    6. Does she make any crackling sounds when breathing? Any bubbling from her eyes or swelling around her eyes?
    7. Look into her mouth. See any white or yellow scum or what might appear to be a mouth full of unswallowed food?
    8. Is your feed stored in a dry place or is it damp and mildewy where you have the feed?
    9. Any balance problems or trouble standing? Do her wings droop when she stands? How is her walking? Any sign of limping?
    10. Is one eye a different color than the other with a pupil that is smaller or irregularly shaped?

    Somewhere in your answers will be a couple of clues, so try to think carefully and answer each one. There's a good chance we can help you make your hen feel better.
     
    dawg53 and LittleCheepers like this.
  3. Ohio peepers

    Ohio peepers In the Brooder

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    Aug 25, 2018
    Thank you for your help! I wanted to ask on here as I wasn't sure the vet knows a lot about chickens. I am an RN so I asked what antibiotic it is...it is the fluoride class...like cipro for humans. I did ask specifically when he mentioned the eggs and he said that they would be nonedible for her life. I told him that would be fine as she is a pet more than anything and we have 10 other layers.

    1) Her crop has no odor. It is squishy and somewhat lumpy. The vet said it feels like grain in there. Our girls have access to outside in a pretty large area that we fenced for their safety. My daughter keeps it meticulous in there as we lost one of our favorites in February unexpectedly so we have been even more diligent with the girls.

    2) she eats chicken feed, scratch grain and vegetables we throw out although I did give them some crushed up tortilla chips last night. They find worms and bugs outside too as well as grass.

    3) It has been very wet here in Ohio. It's supposed to be getting warmer again this week. We had a couple of cooler days but last week we had some 80 degree ones.

    4) The soil is damp from all the rain although they don't have standing water in their run at all.

    5) she laid this morning. She has good shell quality. Some of our lower ended pecking order girls have thin egg shells sometimes but Margo was consistent as she always gets plenty of food being one of the upper girls.

    6)No wheezing or crackling sounds with inspiration or expiration

    7) The feed is in a dry place. I just bought some recently and my daughter just opened it last week. Our girls live inside of our barn that we closed off part of it to make a coop for them. I told the vet there are 4 windows that get plenty of airflow too.

    8) The vet showed me in her mouth where the epiglottis is as he said to make sure when I feed her with the syringe that I place it behind the epiglottis to prevent aspiration. I also looked into her mouth when I was feeding her and it looked normal.

    9) She isn't walking much but stands ok. she droops her wings some though. She just looks exhausted poor thing.

    10) Her pupils look pretty normal but she keeps her right eye closed almost all the time (this just started today). There is no swelling or sign of injury in the area either.

    I just researched abx for chickens and it looks like amoxicillin is acceptable. Is that correct? I have a ton of amoxi on hand!

    Thank you again for your expertise and help!
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

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    Thanks for being so thorough in your answers. We can rule out reproductive issues. That's a big relief as most of the time, treatment of infections in that system have a low rate of success.

    We can't rule out a crop issue, and it sounds as if she could have one. You need to verify by withholding food and water overnight and in the morning until you check her crop. It should be flat and empty. If it is unchanged from its lumpy condition, she could have an obstruction that needs treating.

    The wet, warm weather could be causing a population explosion of coccidia. These are protozoa present in the soil all the time. Your chickens are resistant to them as long as they are in good health and the coccidia don't become a burden in their intestines. You could take a fresh stool sample to the vet and ask for a fecal float test for parasites. It would show a coccidia count if this is your hen's problem. If she has intestinal worms, it will show that, too. For a little extra cost, you could have them run a gram stain for bacteria. You would then know if you need to treat with the amoxicillin.

    If this hen is positive for coccidia, it would be wise to treat the entire flock for to be safe. It does no harm if they aren't coming down with coccidiosis since the treatment is merely a thiamine blocker to interfere with the life cycle of the protozoa.

    Get some liquid Corid as soon as you are able and mix it to the ratio of two teaspoons to one gallon of water. However, if you plan to have a fecal done, don't treat until after you've collected the stool sample. Time is of the essence. Chickens can die from this and it can cause necrotic enteritis which is a bear to treat successfully. Mix the Corid fresh each day and treat for five days. This should be the only water the chickens can access. Don't give any vitamins during this period. Wait a week and treat again for five more days to get any new coccidia hatch.

    You should see improvement in a couple days. You may also be treating a crop infection depending on how you find her crop in the morning. I'll check back here first thing in the morning for your report and we'll go from there.
     
  5. Ohio peepers

    Ohio peepers In the Brooder

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    Aug 25, 2018
    Axygous, thank you so much! Margo slept in a box in my bedroom Thursday night. I had to get up early Friday morning to go to work. I woke in the night and touched her back holding my breath that she would still be alive, she made a soft noise to let me know she was still with us. I got up extra early so I could give her water/electrolytes with a syringe (my teenagers would be home all day to care for her). To my surprise she was standing with both eyes open and much more feisty! Her waddles seemed much cooler. She ate the lettuce I offered her and then had a large wet stool (normal color, maybe a bit more green). She then had another stool. I woke up one of my kids before I left so she could continue feeding and monitoring her. Took her out to free range supervised and she did great! She looked completely normal. I went out to visit the girls this morning and Margo was very talkative, eating/drinking normally. Whatever it was seems to be over and she is back to her bossier self. Thank you so much for the info on coccidia. I am still learning much about chickens (we have had these girls for almost a year and they are our first flock). I am going to get the medication you suggested to have on hand just in case. I have been told chickens die quickly often once signs/symptoms of illness begin so I was afraid we would lose her.
     
    azygous likes this.

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