Swollen white ear lobe - possible Marek's tumour or an infection?

KayTee

Songster
7 Years
Sep 21, 2012
941
224
181
South West France
I rescued two red sex link chickens from a neighbour in January this year. They are two and a half to three years old, and were not kept in the best of conditions (poor food and a small muddy run). When I got them I noticed one had a sort of keyhole pupil - but it's more of a stain than an irregularity in the iris. They've both been fine since I got them, although only the one with the keyhole pupil lays (but at their age it doesn't surprise me).

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the earlobes on the one with the keyhole pupil had started to turn white. I looked a bit online, but couldn't find any definitive answers - nothing that fit with the fact that she had no other symptoms. However, this morning when I let them out I saw that her right earlobe is completely swollen. For the last two or three days she has also had quite a bit of diarrhoea - some quite dark, and some very white and milky. The lump feels hard and hot - kind of like an infection. I've tried to look in her ear, but I can't see anything. I'm really worried that it might be a Marek's tumour, but I wouldn't have thought that a tumour would feel hot. If it's an infection, then I only have amoxcyllin to give her - does anyone think that might do something against an ear infection?
Added note: she is eating and drinking normally, and seems perfectly happy and bright - her usual self apart from a great big lump on the side of her face!

Any suggestions gratefully received.

Photos:






 
Last edited:

Eggcessive

Enabler
Premium member
9 Years
Apr 3, 2011
50,868
41,258
1,202
southern Ohio
I believe your hen has an ear infection, which could be bacterial or fungal. The amoxicillin would be very good to treat it for 7-10 days. Dosage is 125 mg twice a day, or 100mg 3 times a day. I might try to get out the infection or pus (which can solidify as it does in bumblefoot.) Here is a recent thread with similar symptoms: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/877544/bad-swollen-ear
 
Last edited:

Nambroth

Fud Lady
8 Years
Apr 7, 2011
2,961
1,079
312
Western NY
My Coop
My Coop
Poor hen! I'm sorry she's having trouble. I know how distressing this can feel.

It is my opinion that you should treat this as an infection first (honestly if it's a tumor and you can't have it surgically removed, there isn't too much that can be done anyhow). The amoxicillin would be good, and eggcessive has already given you a dosage. I'd do a direct course with her for the 7-10 days-- directly administer it to this hen, don't put it in the water or anything.
Can you carefully examine her ear canal and see if you see any obstructions or unusual puss, scabby things, etc?

I have not personally seen a tumor like this from Marek's, but I certainly have not "seen it all" and I wont' say it's impossible. I just think it would be wise to treat for infection first.

Does she seem tipsy, or unsteady, dizzy at all? Does she shake her head or scratch at her ear?

Let us know how it goes!
 

KayTee

Songster
7 Years
Sep 21, 2012
941
224
181
South West France
A couple of them have been shaking their heads a bit, so I suspected ear mites, but I haven't been able to see anything in their ears, and I treat them with ivermectin a couple of times a year.

I have started treating her with the amoxicillin (I always put it directly onto plain boiled rice - disappears in less than a minute!) I wondered if it might be an insect bite (we get a lot of horseflies around here, and I always react really badly to them), but the only antihistamine I have got also has lidocaine in it, so for tonight at least I've got nothing to use on her. I will try and get a different antihistamine from the chemist tomorrow, as I wouldn't have thought that adding a treatment like that to the antibiotics will do her any harm.

I have looked at the other thread that Eggcessive posted, but the swelling is not in the same place - my girl's ear is pretty much normal - it is the side of her face and throat that are swollen, basically the earlobe, not the ear canal - I really can't see anything in her ear at all.

I am leaning towards an infection (or possible reaction to a bite) rather than a tumour, because it came on so quickly, but I am not very keen on invasive procedures with my girls unless it is a life or death situation - I am always afraid of doing more harm than good. (Hence several months of daily foot bathing for a bumblefoot on another girl, rather than cutting it out, but I'm finally seeing results, so it has been worth it!)

I will keep an eye on it - if it seems to be getting worse then I may just see if there is some pus there that can be removed but I am hoping that it won't come to that, especially as I am away for 4 days from Sunday - really not good timing!

Thank you for all the advice so far - any other ideas or experiences are still welcome!
 

KayTee

Songster
7 Years
Sep 21, 2012
941
224
181
South West France
Well after 3 days of antibiotics I think that the lump may be going down a bit. She still has some diarrhoea but I don't know if she's doing normal poops as well. She's still happy in herself - fighting for treats and scratching around as normal. My other half is taking over for the next 4 days as I'm off to London with the school - I've prepared the doses of medicine for him, just hope he manages to persuade her to take it!
 

KayTee

Songster
7 Years
Sep 21, 2012
941
224
181
South West France
Update - my husband managed to get her to take her antibiotics every day whilst I was away.

I got back yesterday and she's almost back to normal - the swelling has virtually gone. Gave her a last dose of medicine today - that's a 7 day course, so I hope it's enough.

Her earlobes are still both white, and I haven't found any answers as to why they've turned this colour, but she laid an egg yesterday, so seems to be back to full health.
 

Eggcessive

Enabler
Premium member
9 Years
Apr 3, 2011
50,868
41,258
1,202
southern Ohio
Update - my husband managed to get her to take her antibiotics every day whilst I was away.

I got back yesterday and she's almost back to normal - the swelling has virtually gone. Gave her a last dose of medicine today - that's a 7 day course, so I hope it's enough.

Her earlobes are still both white, and I haven't found any answers as to why they've turned this colour, but she laid an egg yesterday, so seems to be back to full health.
Sometimes white in the earlobes that is not normal, or in the combs and wattles can be a slight fungal infection or even dry skin. Antifungals such as miconazole, clotrimazole, or lotrimin cream can be used to apply to the affected areas daily.
 

KayTee

Songster
7 Years
Sep 21, 2012
941
224
181
South West France
Thank you Eggcessive - I hadn't thought of that, and I've got some miconazole cream on hand.

I shall give it a try this afternoon. Even if it is only dry skin, the cream should help to soften it up.
 

KayTee

Songster
7 Years
Sep 21, 2012
941
224
181
South West France
A final update - the antifungal cream seems to have worked - her earlobes have virtually no white on them now at all. It has taken a long while, but the swelling has completely gone as well - she is back to normal.


Once I was certain that the infection was gone I treated her and a couple of the others that were shaking their heads badly with Johnson's Ear Mite drops (for cats and dogs!) and it seems to have done the trick. I read on other posts that Ivermectin isn't as fantastic at killing off mites etc as people are led to believe, and I have to say that I probably agree - I spent a fortune on a small bottle that I have used for 6-monthly treatments, but they still seem to have picked up lice and mites. I've bought other medication (dusting powder, Fosinopril spray and now the ear mite drops) that seems to have been far more effective, so I don't think I will be shelling out on any more Ivermectin any time soon.
 
Top Bottom