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Dr.D, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 856
Experience:  Small Animal and Exotic Animal Veterinarian . Licensed in Florida and Canada
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I have a 13 week old chicken who is unable to walk. She is

Customer Question

I have a 13 week old chicken who is unable to walk. She is clearly in distress. She can take a few limping steps and then can't support herself and lays down. She has no cuts abrasions or wounds. It is not bumblefoot. This has been progressing over the last couple of weeks. It started as a reluctance to jump up onto anything and has become debilitating. She is panting and holding her wings out in confinement (not when she's with the flock). the other 2 chickens in my backyard flock are not showing any symptoms. The distressed chicken is eating, drinking and has normal poop. I have videos and pictures if helpful.
Today I gave her 40mg of aspirin to see if it would lessen the limp and confirm a sprain- it did nothing to reduce limp. Tonight I administered 1tsp epsom salt in 1oz lukewarm water by mouth. I have also provided her with water containing electrolytes, probiotics and vitamins.
I have an appointment with a vet on Sunday morning (the soonest anyone was available in a 30 mile radius) but fear it will be too late by then for intervention as chickens decline rapidly once symptoms are present.
What is going on with this poor baby?!?
Submitted: 26 days ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr.D replied 25 days ago.

Thank you for the question and sorry for the trouble. I am DrD , will try to answer to your question. Although I can not diagnose your bird problem here I have some ideas what might be going on . I would like you to check this out.

All symptoms you have mentioned fits into a disease called Marek's disease which is a very common in backyard poultry. Your bird sounds like having the neurological form .Signs are slowly progressive like in your chicken. This is quite a common backyard poultry disease, overall. Typically, signs are slowly progressive, and often involve the ischiatic nerve(s) initially.

There are other things to rule out though . Your vet probably will fecal direct exam and flotation performed; run a CBC and good biochemistry profile to seek any hint of other disease processes that may be in play. Make sure the bird truly is eating / drinking well, and offer a good nutritional plane of diet for her in the interim. Please do not give any other medications since this may worsens her condition .

The virus is primarily spread by infected dander (dead skin cells) from other birds. However, it can be transported in dirty hen carriers, on clothing and boots, wild birds, and by darkling beetles in the henhouse.

It can survive for up to 65 weeks in ambient temperature in coops and for years in soil.

The virus is spread horizontally- that is chicken to chicken, not from the hen to the egg. So the virus will spread quicker among hens in tight living conditions- make sure to seperate the sick one from others. But if this is Marek's than the disease is already there. Soem birds are resistant to the disease and may not show any signs.

I hope this helps. I am hoping that this is not a Marek's case :(

Customer: replied 25 days ago.
I have considered Marek's. I'm hoping it's not. I was also entertaining the possibility of Botulism. She did get into some maggots that were questionable. I've read all about both. They seem to have very similar signs. Even in the case of botulism though, the other two chickens would likely be showing signs as well, right?
Expert:  Dr.D replied 25 days ago.

"I was also entertaining the possibility of Botulism" Not very common in backyard birds but sure can be.

" Even in the case of botulism though, the other two chickens would likely be showing signs as well, right?"Correct but remind you that some birds will still have some immunity or will show signs of any disease may be in a later time .We do not have to see the signs and symptoms at the same time .

Expert:  Dr.D replied 25 days ago.

Could you please click accept if you are satisfied with my response than I can get rewarded for my time . Thank you

Expert:  Dr.D replied 23 days ago.

I'm just following up on our conversation about Scarlett. How is everything going?