Wry Neck/Stargazing or Seizures?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by RedDrgn, Jul 5, 2017.

  1. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    May 11, 2011
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    Update #1, July 6, 2017:

    I contacted our State Veterinarian's office to report this issue and am expecting to hear back from our regional inspector some time today or tomorrow to further discuss and determine whether/when they will come out and assess and see what recommendations they may have.

    We contacted the breeder that we got him (and his siblings) from to see if they were aware or had seen any similar issues in their flocks over the years, and they reported that this was new to them as well. They also forwarded my description of the problem on to their State Ag Office, and actually received a reply pretty quickly, which while caveated that they could not diagnose via email, stated that the condition sounded like an acute metabolic and/or neurological disorder and may be related to a condition known as "flip over" in broilers. I've started looking into that and symptoms and descriptions sound extremely similar (though I cannot find a video), though unlike broilers who succumb to the spasms, etc., our cockerel is still alive and functional.

    He had at least one brief episode after dark last night, but was otherwise continuing to eat, drink, poop, chase bugs, chat, and meander around his enclosure. He still keeps his head and tail cocked at odd angles, but is slightly more surefooted more often when walking around.

    ***********************
    This issue regards a 3 month old RO cockerel (1 of 11 straight run RO chicks we got this spring). This past Monday, during our flock's into-the-coop to roost for the night routine, our BR burst into a persistent alarm call, which we immediately investigated.

    What we found was this cockerel in the coop on his back and just flailing (the rest of the flock was either already roosted in the coop or outside trying to figure out what was going on). We pulled him out and took him away from the others to figure out what was going on, and when we put him down he would immediately fall back on his rear end, legs straight out in front of him and his neck coiled down on his back and then start kicking and flapping (ineffectually) and writhing his neck against his back. Picking him up and holding him calmed him and he stopped, but putting him down again without holding onto him resulted in him falling back down and starting it all over.

    In the event it was a Vit E deficiency, we dosed him with ~100mg of Vit E supplement by syringe and made sure he was hydrated. In ~45 minutes, he'd calmed and was able to stand on his own and walk, slightly unsteadily. He kept his tail turned to the left and his head tilted right and slightly back, but was stable. He even ate and drank on his own, so we isolated him in a large crate with flock raiser feed and vitamin-laced water.

    He continues to hold his tail and head askew, though he is fully alert, watchful, and chatty and continues to eat, drink, and poop just fine (and in normal/expected quantities) on his own. However, yesterday we saw him randomly fall back and have one of the flailing fits 3 times in between just sitting/standing around the crate. He walks, but there was and remains a touch of unsteadiness about it.

    This morning, he had two more fits before 6AM. The rest of the flock, which includes 10 of his siblings, two 6yo hens, and 3 4yo hens remain perfectly normal. I'm thinking it's not a vitamin issue. I don't know if it's injury-related (we found no evidence of such and he never appears to be in pain or react as if anything hurts him), or if it's genetics. I am pessimistic about his full recovery at this point, and unfortunately, think I will have to cull later this evening if there is no marked improvement very soon. However, I was very curious as to whether any of you have experienced anything like this or may have more insight as to possible causes/prevention/cures.

    Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2017
  2. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    Sorry you are having trouble. :( Have you looked into Marek's or other disease issues? Did you hatch these chicks yourself from your own stock? Do you feed treats or supplements?

    Doesn't really sound like what I think of as star gazing, that I've seen in my shipped chicks. Which breed is RO? Doesn't sound injury related either.

    I suggest contacting your state vet or poultry lab. They will talk with you about symptoms. But also if you do cull or the chick passes, a necropsy can usually be done for low or no cost.. And I HIGHLY suggest it! It may not determine what's going on. But at the very least it can rule out certain diseases and such.

    https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahln/downloads/all_nahln_lab_list.pdf

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/how-to-send-a-bird-for-a-necropsy-pictures.799747/

    Note, I have a silkie cross chick that at 8 weeks old had his legs fail completely but with no other symptoms. Today is day 10 of being able to only crawl around in his box, vigorously eating and pooing normal, alert, not lethargic. I also tried treating with E but to no avail. I have read selenium and B's are vital to helping if it IS an E deficiency.

    We do have one thing in common.. I feed flock raiser. Another thread with same basic symptoms and a video that sounds like what you're describing. My chick isn't doing the seizure thing...
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/10-week-old-chick-lost-balance-cant-walk.1183715/

    Hope you figure it out! :fl
     
  3. Baby_Annie

    Baby_Annie In the Brooder

    It doesn't sound like wry neck to me either- I'm getting VERY acquainted with it! I have a 12 week old silkie with wry neck, and she has been living in my house for 2 1/2 weeks. Although the advice for treatment has been AMAZING- there isn't a lot of information on how long it takes- so let me say this... response to treatment is slow! If you only noticed and treated with vitamin E yesterday- don't expect a miracle in 24 hours. If you have the ability to give him some time, and he doesn't seem to be in pain- then maybe try the treatment outlined in Alan Stanford's article...

    One life-saving trick I have learned is that syringes aren't needed. My chickens LOVE tiny cubes of whole wheat bread, so I cut the tips off two 200 IU vitamin E capsules and squeeze them into the bread. Don't forget the Selenium too- so the E is absorbed better. I also feed my silkie cut up grapes and cherries to help with the lack of water... and I mix her chick crumble with a little yoghurt and some water. I read that dehydration is a huge issue, and I can see why- when she tries to drink it triggers seizures, so she is drinking less. If she recovers, I might have to change her name from "Ninja" to Princess Diva Ninja"!

    I wish you luck with your rooster- keep us updated.
     
  4. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    RO = Russian Orloff

    He was shipped with his 10 siblings from an NPIP breeder and have not received any vaccinations. They have been living outdoors since they were 8 weeks old.

    None of our other chickens are exhibiting any signs/symptoms of illness, and the symptoms do not seem to match up to the descriptions I've read of Marek's and other ailments. If we do cull or otherwise lose him, the necropsy idea is excellent, so thank you very much for that. In the meantime, good call on contacting APHIS; may also check State Veterinarian's officer for more info and maybe they can direct on a nearby/inexpensive necropsy location (if needed) as well.

    When ours isn't upright, he's either on the ground flailing or sitting normally. There is no intermediate where he's actually off-balance/tripping/stumbling, nor any crawling. The video in the thread you referenced is very different from our boy. When ours goes down, it's violent. Legs and wings are similarly extended, but ours keeps his head back against his back and just writhes and flails his head. It's pretty awful and I just grab him when I see it (because it seems to stop it), but if I can get a video, I will (which may be helpful if we can get a necropsy done and send that along to show what symptoms were).

    The food and water additives he's receiving now are full spec on the vitamins and nutrients and I did double-check to ensure selenium and riboflavins were part of it. I just dosed the E up front the first two days to bolster, if it was the case. However, I'd expect others in the flock to be having problems if it were a vitamin deficiency at this point.

    Sometimes the "language" barriers we have between us and animals is so frustrating! ARGH! Hopefully we can figure it out, because this fella was a likely candidate for becoming our next flock roo. If not, hopefully we can learn from him. I hope you can get your little one back on its feet and good to go, too!
     
  5. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    We first dosed with Vit E Monday evening, and a second dose Tuesday evening. Since Monday evening, he's only been eating and drinking flock raiser with a vit/electrolyte mix, and water treated with vit/electrolytes and both include selenium and additional vitamins to keep it balanced. That's our plan to continue moving forward to avoid potential overdosing and organ damage. I know response may be delayed and was planning to give him at least a week, but if he keeps dropping into these fits without frequency reduction, I don't think I will let him linger that long (they're pretty terrible to see).

    I am planning to see about contacting a local livestock vet (who does have a poultry specialist) and our state vet's office to see what they may be able to offer insight as well. For now, ours is eating and drinking like a champ and has no issues doing so (oddly enough).

    Hopefully we can find a curable source of the issue or at least figure out what it is should be encounter it in the future. I hope you get your little fluff back to 100% and earn her the Princess Diva Ninja title. :D
     
  6. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    I would NEVER breed him EVEN if he recovers.. personal preference. That really stinks.

    I have a flock of 60 ish. ONLY 1 with these symptoms. Thing is, that any illness or parasite will attack the weakest first. At least that is who will show symptoms and succumb first. IMO, IF mine is deficiency... which is what adds up the most right now (crawling is a bad description on my part), possible causes I can think of are internal or external parasites OR genetics. I haven't yet treated for worms because I don't randomly treat for what I don't have. So I need to get a fecal float/count done to see what the worm load is, but been waiting for the 4th holiday to pass. And treating an already ailing bird could actually make them worse/weaker.

    Also, the only vaccine I know of is Marek's and that doesn't mean they won't get it.. just like the flu vaccine, It's supposed to help them fight it off in the future. I never get my chicks vaccinated.. but we also don't have high incidents in our area.

    No two individuals will present or respond to treatment exactly the same way. So I am following these threads that are very similar to each other with the hopes of learning something new.

    It would be so much easier to cull if the bird was in obvious pain. But it seems to have a strong desire to thrive. I've even started to consider keeping a disabled bird... now I have to start considering quality of life for the bird. My first instinct is cull, you don't have time to support it in the future... my heart says this bird is so "sweet". Reality often dictates though... wish it was an easier decision. We process our cockerels anyways, but it doesn't *feel* the same. :barnie

    Hang in there! :fl :hugs
     
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  7. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    We've got 6 cockerels, so we're not out of options even though two are already on the grow-out-and-process list for breed conformity issues, but this guy did have a high probability of becoming the next flock roo until this happened. *headdesk* If this guy recovers, he'll at least get another ~6-8 months (they are a really slow-maturing breed) of high living. Currently, I'm waiting on a call back from our state vet office.

    I hear you on the culling. We started "chickening" 7 years ago, and when we did we did so with the understanding that we would HAVE to cull birds from time to time for any number of reasons. As with having any animal, it should come down to quality of life for them (and you, in the case the animal requires some type of special need and whether you truly can meet it and keep their quality high). It never feels good, but it's much worse when you're in a situation where you're really just not sure.

    In the end, if we try to do the best we can based on what we know and what resources we've got, then at least they have been given a fair chance and a good life (whatever the length).
     
    EggSighted4Life likes this.
  8. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    I contacted my own vet and the state vet.

    My own vet said $95 to send the bird out to my state vet. And another $102 to euthanize.

    However the state vet said they do not test the blood in dead animals and the cone method is fine as long as I include the head. They gave me their Fed Ex acct # and said I will be billed $20 for the necropsy and the cost for shipping, which is less for them than an individual and would be about $20 more (probably).

    State vet also said she *felt* like my issue IS neurological Marek's. There is no blood test to confirm. And she also told me that individual breeders can in fact get a marek's vaccine at the feed store to administer subcutaneously under the wing of day old chicks. As well as said Marek's as far as they are concerned IS EVERYWHERE and it is NOT part of the NPIP requirements. UGH!
     
  9. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

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    May 11, 2011
    West Virginia
    My Coop
    The state vet offer is pretty sound, I'd say. If you choose to cull, I'd go with that.

    Very interesting on their Marek's stance! I just spoke with my state vet and they are definitely interested in our case. The Animal Health Inspector for my region wasn't available today, but they said I should expect a call from him in the next day or two to set up a time to come and look at the flock (and individual bird, if it's still around - which was up to me to decide) and to collect a blood sample for a routine analysis for West Nile, Avian Influenza, and Mycoplasma, as well as to evaluate and tell me whether they would take the individual for necropsy should we lose or choose to cull. They would also advise on a path moving forward.

    None of these symptoms jive with mycoplasma, but I know full well that's in our area (I've seen infected house finches) and I'd be surprised if our flock didn't have it. They said Avian Flu can cause paralysis and/or seizures in chickens, but that West Nile was typically asymptomatic in chickens.

    Please keep me posted on what you do/find out/what happens with your chicken and I'll keep this thread updated on mine. If all else goes awry, hopefully we both at least gain some useful knowledge and experience from all of this. :confused:
     
  10. chitownhens

    chitownhens Songster

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    I don't know if this is the same issue but I recently had a hen that was falling over. She then proceeded to constantly turn her neck looking up at the sky which then moved on to being completely blind. This took place over the course of 3 days. I decided to force feed her raw beef liver and liquid as she was unable to feed. I didn't take video at day four because she looked so bad and it seemed hopeless but I kept feeding her. By day seven she started to recover. She eventually recovered her sight except for one eye that is impaired. Her sight is slightly off when trying to hand feed her but otherwise she did recover. It seemed to be neurological in nature..........maybe Marek's



     
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