Swollen head

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by oldhenlikesdogs, Nov 6, 2016.

  1. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

    15,984
    3,581
    436
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I was wondering if anyone has seen this before and can help identify what it could be. I have a 7 year old bantam cochin rooster who's head is swollen. It's been going on now for about 2 weeks. I initially thought it was fowl pox due to the swollen tissues around his head but now I'm not sure. He's lost color, does eat and drink but is slowly losing weight. He doesn't sneeze or cough but when picked up he has trouble breathing and seems moist in the mouth, he also stumbles a bit when walking.

    I tried to get a picture, but they don't really show how his whole head is twice as wide as normal. Thanks for any help anyone can provide. I am contemplating culling him, but he seems to still be hanging in there, so i was going to watch another week. No other flock mates are showing any symptoms.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    28,998
    2,999
    471
    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    I haven't seen this in my flock before, but I have read about several things that can cause a swollen head. One is swollen head syndrome, more common in turkeys, but also can affect chickens. Another possibility could be a leaking air sac in the head or neck, which can be a result of trauma or from infection hat has affected the air sac. Hopefully, it is just an air sac leaking, and those can be deflated with an 18 gauge needle if it just feels like air under the skin.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2016
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    28,998
    2,999
    471
    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    The Poultry Site has some pictures and links about avian rhinotracheitis and avian pneumovirus which they also call swollen head syndrome. They usually also cause watery eyes and general respiratory symptoms, and E.coli can be a secondary infection.
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

    15,984
    3,581
    436
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Thank you for that I will look into all those. I'm hoping he will begin to improve over the next few weeks, but am worried because of his age he might not get better. I do have turkeys, so that part is very interesting. Thank you so much.
     
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    28,998
    2,999
    471
    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Have you recently given this chicken any vaccinations? I read one article that said that an immune-suppressed bird who receives a Newcastles disease-infectious bronchitis vaccine can get a swollen head. Tick bites have been known to cause extreme swelling around the face and head. I remember a couple of years ago where a local person had a chicken with a swollen head, and they medicated and watched it, but it recovered eventually. The first link below is the chicken and thread, along with the Poultry Site links:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/809141/extreme-cranial-swelling-graphic-pics
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/publications/6/diseases-of-poultry/197/swollen-head-syndrome/
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/diseaseinfo/13/avian-rhinotracheitis-swollen-head-syndrome/

    Swollen Head Syndrome from Univeristy of Fl

    Synonyms: Facial cellulitis, thick head, Dikkop, SHS
    Species affected: Chickens and turkeys are the known natural hosts. Experimentally, guinea fowl and pheasants are susceptible but pigeons, ducks, and geese are resistant to the infection. SHS does not presently occur in the United States, but is present in most countries of the world.
    Clinical signs: In chicks and poults, there is initial sneezing, followed by reddening and swelling of the tear ducts and eye tissue. Facial swelling will extend over the head and down the jaw and wattles. Adult chickens have mild respiratory disease followed by a few birds having swollen heads. Other signs include disorientation, twisting of the neck, and a significant drop in egg production (see Table 1).
    Transmission: The infection spreads by direct contact with infected birds or indirectly by exposure to infectious material.
    Treatment: There is no proven medication for swollen head syndrome. The disease is caused by a virus classified as a pneumovirus. A disease closely mimicking SHS is caused by a mixed infection of respiratory viruses and specific bacteria. Antibiotic therapy may be helpful against the bacterial component.
    Prevention: A commercial vaccine is available. Swollen head syndrome is considered an exotic disease and a live vaccine is not approved for use in the United States.
     
  6. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

    15,984
    3,581
    436
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I don't vaccinate. I had surgery before it started, and the bantam coop had gotten a bit damp from the rains. I had noticed this past week it had been smelling a bit moldy, and have gotten my husband to clean it out for me. So one link I read talked about air irritation being a possible cause. The coop is well ventilated, but rain leaks in if it rains too much and gets the shavings wet. It also has been warmer here than normal which further hastens mold growth, so I'm wondering if they are related to his troubles, though no one else is having troubles.

    I also have turkeys who occasionally chase my bantams when they are out so it's possible he took a konk to his head.

    I will read your links and see what I think. It's strange because it's not like the usual pictures of eyes swollen and pushed out, his whole head is bigger like a cartoon chicken without his comb or wattles being swollen, he is puffy around the eyes, but it's mostly his whole head is wider.

    I'm going to let him go for now as he was trying to eat and doesn't seem to be suffering, just uncomfortable and unwell, but he keeps going outside to forage and tries to look fine, so I'm hopeful he gets better.

    Thank you again for your expert help, and taking the time to try to figure it out for me.
     
  7. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    28,998
    2,999
    471
    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    I hope that you are recovering from surgery well. I'm not at all that much of an expert on chickens, but just like to read. Most of the time, these things tend to be a lot less dramatic a cause in the end. Hopefully, that will be the case here.
     
  8. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

    15,984
    3,581
    436
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Thank you on all counts.

    Recovery is slow and painful (knee replacement).

    I hope my rooster gets better as I don't believe in treatment in most cases, and every time I think I've seen most things something new comes up.

    Reading is empowering, and from what I have read you are the best expert available on this site.

    Thank you for helping people and giving me some good advice, we shall see how he goes. He's already a older rooster, so you never know.
     
  9. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    28,998
    2,999
    471
    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    You are welcome, and I wanted to thank you as well for giving others good advice. I have read many of your posts. Take care of your knee--several friends have gone through replacements, and most are doing well. Good luck.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

    15,984
    3,581
    436
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Just a sad update. He continued to get worse, I wanted my husband to cull him last night, but he worked late. My beautiful rooster unfortunately died over night. I wait one day too many hopping he would improve. We don't do necropsy so we won't really know what he had, but I'm thinking it was his age and something like organ failure. Thanks again for your insight.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by