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Dr. Gregg
Dr. Gregg, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 370
Experience:  35 years experience in general veterinary medicine
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Poorly chicken

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Hi I have a chicken that becomes ill every year at this time. We took it to the vets last year but they couldn't find anything. This year she gapes and makes a gasping sound when sitting down, chokes and sneezes while eating her corn and has puffy eyes. All the other chickens seem fine. Could you please advise me on what it could be and what we could do to help her? Many thanks Hannah

 P.s she also is cratching at the neck

Hello, I'm Dr. Bob.
I'm sorry to read of your bird's obviously uncomfortable condition. Judging from the description of her symptoms you've provided, the most likely diagnosis would be gapeworms. These are worms that live in the bird's windpipe (trachea) and cause precisely the symptoms you've listed. The treatment for gapeworm is Flubenvet, levamisole or thiabendazole. Flubenvet is the most effective of the three, but if you can't get it the others will do.
Time is a factor as the worms can multiply quickly causing suffocation. Other years she may have picked up a lighter infection and been able to survive their life cycle. Gapeworms are found in earthworms, slugs and snails. Some birds are particularly adept at finding and eating these creatures, while others may not be interested, possibly explaining her condition without the involvement of the others.
There are other conditions with similar symptoms including chronic respiratory disease, infectious coryza, cholera, infectious bronchitis, and Newcastle disease. The symptoms for each of these conditions resemble what you're seeing in her, and you can read detailed descriptions of them by googling each by name. Treatments for each, when available, can also be found online.
If you should have further questions, or if I may assist you in any way, now or in the future, please let me know.
Kindest regards,
Dr. Bob
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

If she had a light infection of gape worm could it be possible that the vet missed it ,even though he checked for it? If so how come she is fine the rest of the year, it is normally only during the summer.

I will have a look into some of the other things just in case I have missed a symptom.

I have just had a listen to her breathing. She is very wheezy but not raspy.

Is there any chance it could be some sort of allergy? After all it happens in that type of season.

Thanks Hannah

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.

Hi Hannah
I'm Dr Gregg and I wanted to chime in here regarding your chickens problem. First I have to say I am not an avian/poultry vet, just a small animal vet that has had an interest in treating birds for the last 35 years. I agree with Dr. Bob that there could be an infectious cause for these symptoms, but like you I am bothered by the seasonal nature of the problem. I supposed there could be an infectious component here, made worse this time of year by an allergic response to something the bird is exposed to. Another idea is exposure to an inhaled irritant, such as ammonia. How are the birds housed? Does the coop have good ventilation? Is it particularly dusty? Allergic sinus problems seem rare in chickens, but I supposed not impossible.
What I would consider is talking to your vet about checking some swabs of the affected areas and doing some basic,in house cytology, looking for infectious organisms on exam by microscope. Samples to a lab for culture would be even better. If your vet is not comfortable with that perhaps they would set you up with a trial dose of antibiotics to try-as long as these are not meat/egg birds, just pets. Antibiotics most vets have around, such as doxycycline or enrofloxacin could be used here.

While I am not convinced that gapeworm could be the problem, you may as well have your vet check a stool sample looking for gapeworm eggs, just to be sure. If available to your vet, an endoscope exam of the airways and crop would be very helpful

I hope this helps you out. If you have further questions I will be happy to try to answer them for you. Good luck. Dr. Gregg

Dr. Gregg, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 370
Experience: 35 years experience in general veterinary medicine
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