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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16268
Experience:  As a veterinary surgeon, I have spent a lot of time with bird cases and I'm happy to help you.
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We have a second duck with progressive paralysis

Customer Question

We have a second duck with progressive paralysis legs-wings-neck that will not feed but drink a little . Put Epsom salts in water day 1 of problem [yesterday ] She is isolated inside on straw in a box . What to feed/medicate her as we cannot afford a vet visit ? Bev
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 11 months ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.
Again I do apologize that my colleagues could not aid you sooner, but can you tell me:

Have the birds been vaccinated?

Have they had access to grass or any potentially spoiled food?

Would you say the paralysis starts and the legs and is moving up? Or the other way?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Hi Doctor , we bought the ducks half grown from a Brisbane poultry outlet Sept13 - no vaccinations by us . Access to grass , dam and wild ducks - no spoiled feed. Paralysis started at legs . This one is stronger after Epsom salts day one and honey water day two . How and what to feed her to prevent wasting away like the first one ? She has a raspy quack , hold neck somewhat but no leg / wing strength . She laid an egg yesterday .

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 11 months ago.

Thank you Bev,

First, as I am sure you can appreciate, we can see these types of signs triggered by a range of agents. Still, to have multiple birds affected does may infectious agents and shared toxic exposures our main concerns here.

Now I do want to note that ascending paralysis you have reported does ring my alarm bells of a possible Botulism outbreak. This is caused by a clostridal bacterial and I must warn you that the prognosis for recovery or survival is very guarded. Especially if you cannot get her local vet involved since they often need intensive care +/- antitoxin. That aside, you can try supportive care and cover her with Penicillin G from your local farm supply store to try to at least clear this if present. As well, any other birds should be removed from the region these birds were in when affected and ideally we'd want to clean the area +/- rest it while vaccinating the remaining birds.

Otherwise, generally speaking, we do have some other concerns besides that terrible bacteria that could cause what we are seeing. With all this in mind we'd want to start by reviewing their environment to ensure no contamination (water or land) from chemicals like organophosphates, or heavy metals (ie copper, lead, zinc). As well, we need to make sure there haven't access to salt (which we do see if neighbors are perhaps using this to kill slugs/snails) as this can trigger neurological issues. Any access to these need to obviously be removed.

As well, just to note some other infectious agents we have to be wary of here, we can see a few viruses (ie herpes, Tembusu, West Nile Virus, etc), tick borne bacteria, and parasites trigger neurological signs like this. So, if we have any more birds affected, then these too would be have to be considered and potentially tested for.

Finally, further to the above concerns and broad spectrum antibiotic treatment, I do briefly want to touch on supportive care for Annie. To start, monitor her water intake (which should be about ½ a cup daily) and her for signs of dehydration (skin tenting or sunken eyes). If she can drink on her own, then you can offer water with electrolytes. There are readily available electrolyte solutions available on the market (ie. Vi-tal) or you can use Pedialyte or diluted Gatorade (diluted 50/50 with water). You can offer these in a bowl or if she isn’t drinking on her own you can administer fluids (and hand feeding) via towel restraining and a syringe or dropper. Wrap bird “burrito style” and hold securely upright in lap. You can drip water on top of the beak, as reflex will cause them to catch the droplets with their tongue. (some will even drink from the syringe directly). In doing this, do make sure not to get water into the nares.

Feeding wise, try her favorite foods. You can also get Nutrical paste to supplement her diet (either mixed in food, water, or via syringe) which will provide extra calories or nutrition. Offer fresh foods, high in nutrition and water content like cucumbers, romaine, grapes, melon, oranges, etc. Hard boiled eggs mashed shell and all are extremely nutritious and delicious to birds. Cooked brown rice and even cous cous is good for her. Finally, if you are comfortable hand feeding her (and she is happy for you to do so) you can make a hand feeding paste with hand feeding powder (ie Nupreen Hand Feeding Formula) and your electrolyte solution. That way we can give her body the support it needs as we rule out toxicities and treat for what we can.

Please take care,

Dr. B.

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Expert:  Dr. B. replied 10 months ago.

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