Sick pullet with strange cyst above vent (picture)

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by nessili, Oct 14, 2014.

  1. nessili

    nessili Out Of The Brooder

    12
    1
    27
    Oct 4, 2014
    King George, VA
    We've only had chickens since the middle of June, so I'm still very new at this.

    Today one of my 17 week old Speckled Sussex hens (Queen Elizabeth I) began acting strangely. She didn't run to join the others when I threw out their evening scratch. When she did eventually join them, she pecked half-heartedly, then settled down in a heap as if very tired. This scared me because we just lost another hen two weeks ago (an adult bantam Cochin), and she'd done the same thing--not moving much and just sleeping all the time. I immediately isolated the Sussex, gave her a warm box with as much food as she wanted (the Cochin died after losing too much weight and then stopped eating--by the time we noticed, it was too late). Elizabeth, on the other hand, wolfed down everything I put in front of her, and still had plenty of energy to protest being kept away from the rest of the flock. That made me feel a little better.

    Once isolated, I could tell which droppings were hers, and it's diarrhea. The first was a plain yellowish, the second a clear, almost mucus-y, and the last greenish and white (but much more of it--don't know if that's because she finally had food in her system or what). I also saw that she had a strange lump in her vent area. Because our Sussexes _hate_ being picked up and handled (they will protest most vociferously and struggle to get free), no one had noticed it before.

    She hasn't started laying yet, but may start soon: I wasn't sure if something had happened while trying to lay her first egg. So I brought her inside and had her sit in a warm Epsom salt bath for about 15-20 minutes. While blow-drying her feathers (before returning her outside to her little private room), I was able to get a better look at the lump/cyst/tumor
    [​IMG]
    That's actually the upper edge of the vent. You can't see the vent at all because the lump overhangs the vent opening. I clipped a couple of feathers that were growing out of the mass, just so I could examine it better. I don't think the other hens have been pecking at it--it looks more like she's been worrying at it herself while the new feathers come in (she's finishing up her molt).

    I've found plenty of pictures for lumps _beneath_ the vent area, the fluid-filled sacs that can sometimes be lanced, but nothing really that looks like this. It's firm but not rock hard, kinda squishy (somebody elsewhere used the description "like a fingertip" for a different lump, and that's about right). The skin is pulled very tight and you can see the blood vessels through the skin. If it were cutaneous Marek's, then the feather follicles would have the white "pimple-y" looking tumors around them, not the whole area in one big lump. Right? I also read that some flukes make cysts near the vents of chickens, and we certainly had plenty of dragonflies around the run this past summer, but those cysts are only 4-6mm in size, and this thing is a good 1"-1.5" (25-40mm?) across.

    I wormed the chickens with hygromycin B two weeks ago, but am not sure they got enough of it since it was added to the feed. I was going to go to the feed store tomorrow and get a different dewormer, one that I have to give directly to each chicken. It may be harder to apply, but at least I'll know that each got the full amount.

    The run unfortunately backs up to a wetland-type area, so mosquitoes are pretty thick (and I can't spray them because the area is part of the Potomac River/Chesapeake Bay watershed and the gov't gets really cranky about too many pesticides in the the water supply). The coop is small, but I scrape it out about every 2-3 days, and give it a thorough hosing-down at least once every 2 weeks.

    Can't think of any other pertinent information at this time. So does any one have an idea what's going on? Is the cyst-thingy even connected to the rest of Elizabeth's symptoms? I could really use some advice right now--I don't want to lose another of my girls :(

    Thanks.
     
  2. nessili

    nessili Out Of The Brooder

    12
    1
    27
    Oct 4, 2014
    King George, VA
    UPDATE: She's gotten worse overnight. Went out to check on her this morning, and she refused to eat the scrambled eggs I brought out. Can't tell if she's drunk any water. Passed a little watery, light tan diarrhea. Just sits on her roosting pole with head pulled in, eyes closed, feathers ruffled, breathing very hard. She seems to strain from time to time, like she's trying to pass something, but nothing comes out.

    I think I'm going to move her onto our sun porch--I can keep a better eye on her there, and at least she won't be too isolated. But I think I'm just going to have to steel myself to losing another chick. I'll try to get a post mortem done on this one--one chicken dying under strange conditions is sad, two is a warning--something's not right out there, but I haven't a clue what it is.
     
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

    30,514
    4,879
    541
    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    I think it looks like a cyst or tumor (I'm just an amateur, though.) Has the cyst been pecked at? I would put on a rubber glove, and feel inside the vent aimed a little upward 1-2 inches, to feel for a possible stuck egg, since she is straining. A warm soak and a dose of Tums or a calcium tablet would be in order if you feel an egg, along with gentle massage of the belly to help her pass it.
    Did your first chicken have any leg or wing weakness or paralysis before dying? Did she have a Mareks vaccine? Mareks can cause tumors, but cysts are fairly common on chickens too. This pullet sounds a little like she could be suffering from coccidiosis, but so many illnesses can cause diarrhea and lethargy. Corid liquid or powder in the water would treat cocci if you suspect that. Worms can also cause diarrhea, and I would recommend Valbazen or SafeGuard Liquid Goat wormer 1/2 ml given orally, and repeat in 10 days. Larger doses of SafeGuard can be used for more days to treat certain more uncommon worms.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  4. nessili

    nessili Out Of The Brooder

    12
    1
    27
    Oct 4, 2014
    King George, VA
    UPDATE (mainly for someone else who might be in a similar situation)
    Elizabeth is still with us...barely. She refused to eat or drink today. I tried forcibly dribbling a few drops of water in her beak, but she struggled the whole time, which kind of defeats the purpose of getting water into her.

    Thanks for the reply--here's what we've done so far.

    It's definitely not an egg. I did the Epsom bath treatment last night and again this morning and couldn't feel anything. She hadn't started laying yet, and we weren't expecting her to for another few weeks.

    Nobody around here treats chickens that we know of, but our dogs' vet did do a fecal float test for us yesterday. Neither of the two samples I brought in had any sign of worms. There's still no paralysis of any sort, just general weakness and lethargy, so it's probably not Marek's. There's no blood in any of the stools I've seen (on either of the chickens we've gone through this with), so we're pretty much ruling coccidiosis out too.

    The best fit we've found so far is e. coli. All the symptoms fit, and that lump could possibly be a severely inflamed/infected bursa of fabricius. She won't drink, so I can't start her on an antibiotic (I don't have access to any antibiotics I can inject directly), but we have the rest of the flock on a regimen of tetracycline to hopefully forestall any further sick chickens (right now they're all really healthy looking. They weren't particularly happy today, but that's because it poured buckets and the run turned into a lake). I also gave them a special treat of Greek yogurt this afternoon. I mixed in some multi-vitamins, ground flax meal, chopped up honeydew (for yumminess), and small amount of crumbles. They loved it: Elizabeth turned up her beak and wouldn't touch it.

    I last looked in on her around 830pm, and she was standing in a corner of her isolation crate breathing very hard, as if she couldn't get a deep breath. Not sure if she'll make it to morning. Actually, I'm somewhat glad my father will be the first one up and out on the sunporch where her crate is--he's a doctor, so finding a deceased bird won't phase him. He's also offered to do a post mortem when this is all over (I'm not expecting the bird to make it, not unless she's been sneaking water), so we can hopefully get a more definite answer and protect the others.

    And to make my day complete, I discovered the other bantam Cochin has bumblefoot. Great. Wonderful. Terrific. E. coli and staph--our backyard's turning into the Hot Zone.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2014
  5. nessili

    nessili Out Of The Brooder

    12
    1
    27
    Oct 4, 2014
    King George, VA
    FINAL UPDATE: Impacted crop. A freaking impacted crop.

    Well, we found out what was wrong with Elizabeth, too late unfortunately. After a ton more reading and researching, we realized what we thought was another tumor on her right breast was actually her crop. Being so new at this, we didn't know that
    1. the crop could get that big and
    2. it was on the right side of the chicken. I always thought it was in the middle front.

    Anyway, figuring the poor thing was going to die anyway, we attempted emergency surgery for an impacted crop. My father (a former doctor) watched a bunch of videos on the process, and then we sterilized what we could and started in. I held the hen upright in my lap because she couldn't breathe in any other position. Dad sliced through the skin and crop wall and started hauling undigested stuff out. The chicken didn't so much as twitch the whole time. Holy crow! There was probably 3/4 cup of crud in there! Main culprit? Straw. Not sure how you're supposed to keep the chickens from eating the straw, especially if it's used in their coop.

    All was going well, until enough stuff was removed to release the pressure the crop had put on her windpipe and lungs (hence the breathing problems). My Sussexes HATE being held. Hate it with a passion. I believe Elizabeth only allowed me to hold her because she was too focused on trying to breathe. When she finally could breathe freely again, she suddenly started to struggle and squawk in my arms. As we hadn't finished emptying her crop, I had to try to calm her back down, which only made her fight harder. In the middle of that she just keeled over abruptly. As near as we can tell, it was a heart attack brought on by extreme stress. A friend who had worked with birds as a vet nurse said that wasn't uncommon, for birds to die abruptly of heart failure. At least it was quick and painless. Certainly much better than suffocating and/or starving to death :(

    The "cyst"? As near as we can tell it was merely a highly inflamed bursa. After some antibiotics and a couple Epsom soaks, it had gone down tremendously.

    The e. coli-type diarrhea? We figure that with as stressed out as the hen was from everything going wrong, the e. coli that she already had (most chickens have some small amounts of the bacteria) got out of balance and began to run rampant through her system. However, we are keeping the rest of the flock on antibiotics for the full 7 days...just in case.

    Now that we know crop surgery isn't that difficult, we're preparing for next time (we still have 3 more Sussex hens who bolt their food like crazy, so this may happen again). Suturing kits can be bought on Amazon of all places, some lidocaine to numb the area, and someone suggested a small amount of Benedryl as sedation.

    Super paranoid now about crops though [​IMG]
     
  6. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

    30,514
    4,879
    541
    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    So sorry for your loss, but it sounds like it was a real learning experience. I'm not sure that you could have done anything more to help her.
     
  7. Toddrick

    Toddrick Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,251
    89
    156
    Sep 28, 2014
    Indiana
    Thanks for sharing your story. Very informative. I'm sorry she didn't make it, but it was a real good try.

    I read somewhere that if you lay the bird on their side, they will not fight or move. Not sure that alone would work on your breed though. Another thing I heard was to cover their head with a towel. It would be nice if they carried sedatives as TSC! My birds hate being touched with a passion, but even my mean rooster doesn't fight once I get a firm grip (now if I loosen, that's another story heh).

    The most important learning experience here is probably to always do a full examination of the crop/vent/feet/fieces when illness is suspected. I learned this lesson the hard way too.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2014
  8. HeatherR

    HeatherR New Egg

    6
    0
    6
    Oct 20, 2014
    Southern Ontario
    benadryl for sedation???
     
  9. nessili

    nessili Out Of The Brooder

    12
    1
    27
    Oct 4, 2014
    King George, VA
    Benedryl/antihistamines in general make most creatures sleepy. Our vet used to tell us to give it to our dogs to keep them calm during long road trips and thunderstorms. So I wasn't startled when my friend suggested using Benedryl before surgery (and yes, she's dealt with birds/chickens before :) )
     
  10. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

    30,514
    4,879
    541
    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Actually, lidocaine probably shouldn't be used for numbing, since the drugs with -caine endings can be toxic in chickens. They do use them in veterinary surgery with extreme caution, but to control bleeding primarily.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by