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  #1  
Unread October 17th, 2008, 21:18
chickensrule chickensrule is offline
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Default water belly, ovarian cancer?

Hello,
I have a sick Delaware whom I love dearly. Quick facts: 2.5 years old. Comb is thinner than normal. Fairly lethargic. Has distended abdomen, feels like it is full of liquid. Sits a lot. Is losing weight, but very slowly. Has had abdomen condition for 2-3 months. Has not laid an egg for 4-5 months. Seems to act normal except for the increased sitting (still comes over when I enter cage).
I've taken her to a vet, they suspected ascites. I asked a woman who works with researchers who have been doing genetic testing on chickens for many years (yuk but I am desperate). They are sure it is water belly, or they said aka ovarian cancer. I am in denial. Any thoughts on anything else that this could be, or possible treatment? Or if she is in pain? I am giving her a syrup that is supposed to help with liver functioning, along with milk thistle (supposed to be the same reason). I just started her on baytril per the Idexx lab that does bloodwork for my humane society. I know no one will want to give me bad news but I need to know. I don't want her to be in pain.
I also have a Buff Orpington who is extremely anemic, as shown by her blood cell count. Has lost a lot of weight. Is also 2.5 years old. Stopped eating. Down to just under four pounds. Not laying. Had pale comb waddle legs until I started force feeding her. Now looks a little better. Still very lethargic. Any thoughts on her are appreciated.
And for anyone who helped with the cochin, I had to euthanize her after a long struggle. Did the best I could, her crop was just a mess, just stopped working. I work in wildlife rehab and people have brought me animal after animal over the past week that I had to euthanize because of serious injury. Starting to feel despondent.
I appreciate anything anyone has to say.
Thank you.
Jon Bockman
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  #2  
Unread October 17th, 2008, 21:40
crazychick crazychick is offline
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I can pop in and comment on your buff orp in a bit (I've got to run and get dinner ready...) but I thought I'd give you hope with your Delaware. There is a condition called sterile peritonitis, brought on by egg yolks falling into the abdomen (called "internal layer" and is similar to "impacted oviduct"). These yolks irritate the abdomen, causing inflammation but not necessarily infection, which leads to water accumulation (ascites) but it is not septic. Because there is no infection, the hen can live for a long time this way. I have an internal layer hen (a naked neck) who is over 4 years old and has been like this since about 6 months after she started laying. There are numerous reasons for a hen to starting dropping yolks into the abdomen - reverse peristalsis of the oviduct (the yolk is released and captured by infundibulum, but for whatever reason, the oviduct moves the yolk back out and into the abdominal cavity instead of moving it through properly), an injury in the abdomen (causing the infundibulum or ovary to move out of place, resulting in yolks being dropped into the abdomen), salpingitis (infection/inflammation of reproductive organs - uterus, oviduct...) and a few others.

If the hen is eating and drinking normally, this is a good sign. She will eventually stop ovulating and reabsorb the fluid and the yolks from her abdomen, and over the non-laying period, she should return to nearly normal. She will likely start this up again when she starts ovulating again, however. The added fluid does put pressure on their lungs and air sacs, making breathing more difficult. However, they do seem to adjust quite well and they take longer "breaks" and may find roosting difficult.

Ovarian cancer is a possibility, but usually (I say usually, because not always) the hen loses appetite and succumbs within a few weeks of the fluid building. Generally, the cancer is caused by a retrovirus, resulting in "lymphoid leukosis" or its cousin, reticuloendotheliosis. The latter tends to form more fluid build-up, but both diseases can do this.

As for treatment: You can have the hen drained of fluid. Usually, a bird with yolks in the abdomen will have cloudy, yellowish (no smell) fluid and sometimes you will even have liquid yolk drain off. I have drained hens before, but you must MUST do the draining using sterile needles/catheters and work under sterile conditions or you risk introducing bacteria into the abdomen, which would be catastrophic as it would lead to a septic infection. I have drained my naked neck hen with the sterile peritonitis and the fluid always returns, filling her up again, so I don't take the risk anymore. The other alternative (if the hen is in good shape) is to have her drained, then have surgery done on her to remove her ovary and any offending yolks that are in her abdomen. This is risky surgery, as the yolks have often adhered to other organs or caused adhesions between organs (due to inflammation). The longer you leave your hen, the harder surgery becomes. I chose to not have surgery done on my hen as she had been like this for too long and didn't want to take the chance.

HOpe this helps,

laura
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  #3  
Unread October 18th, 2008, 03:08
chickensrule chickensrule is offline
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thanks for the info, Laura. You have always offered sound advice, and I needed to hear that there is some hope for her...hopefully...
I will run that info by my vet and see what she thinks. Although clearly, you are much more well versed with chickens than she is. My vet has started both Camella and Willa (Delaware and Orpington) on Baytril...can you comment on this? Should I continue giving Camella the syrup and milk thistle? I look forward to your comments on Willa.
Lastly, because you have so often offered great information, I was wondering if you could answer a few general questions that I have. I believe you recommended Flubenvet as a wormer for chickens? Do you have a regular schedule for worming, in other words, every six months or something like that? If so, could you specify what you use (is it just flubenvet)? I wormed my chickens with Panacur after I saw some large roundworms in their stool about six weeks ago. After seeing actual worms in their stool, I feel I should be using preventive maintenance. Is there anything else like vaccines that I should get for a flock of three birds? I was always under the impression that vaccines were reserved for larger flocks...maybe that was a foolish assumption. I want to take as many steps as I can to ensure the health of my chickens, especially seeing how horrible this experience has been.
Thank you kindly for your time,
Jon Bockman
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  #4  
Unread October 18th, 2008, 04:32
crazychick crazychick is offline
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Hi Jon,

Sorry to hear, by the way, about your cochin... I do remember you posting about her a while back. It's entirely possible that the crop stasis was due to lymphoid leukosis (cancer). It causes the crop to stop working and no amount of medication will fix them up... but it's always good to try because there are several things that can cause sour crop...

If your vet decides to drain your hen with the fluid build-up and she finds a copious amount of clear yellow fluid (not cloudy) then it's possible that your hen has something other than sterile egg yolk peritonitis....

I am not totally sure what could be causing your orpington to become anemic, but a few possibilities include: worm infestation, external parasites, coccidiosis and cancer. A large tumor can sometimes be very vascular and will "suck" blood from the system, causing anemia. Worms (you said you saw roundworms) can easily cause anemia, as can external parasites. Might be worth giving her an external exam and even see if there is a tumor inside her cloaca. Hopefully not, but your vet may be able to find one (cloacal bursa is the usual culprit). As for the milk thistle, I can't comment. I know it's good as a liver tonic but I don't know how it affects birds, long term. The baytril won't hurt your hens, but avoid long-term use as it can cause a yeast infection (depending on dose, but 7 days is usually the max..). If salpingitis happens to be the cause of your hen's ascites, then baytril is the drug of choice to treat that (and possibly some metacam 0.1 mg/kg once per day, orally, to bring down inflammation).

Flubenvet is a fairly common, bird-safe dewormer available in the UK. I'm not sure where you're from, but it's the one I usually recommend for the UK. Panacur is good for roundworms/ascarids and is more readily available here in N AMerica. Ivomec works decently on roundworms/ascarids and is available in most countries (usually what I use). Piprazine is also good for roundworms/ascarids but isn't used as much anymore (I'm not sure if it's as effective or safe as some of the newer dewormers). I think that deworming every couple of months should be enough, especially if you only have a few birds. I only do it once or twice a year, but worms aren't as much of a problem here in Canada (too darn cold) as they are elsewhere. As for vaccines, no... I wouldn't panic and start vaccinating them for a lot of stuff. If you buy chicks from a large hatchery, you may ask for them to be vaccinated against mareks disease and/or coccidiosis to give them some protection against these diseases (although it's far from 100% protection). Some vaccines will make the birds into carriers (such as infectious laryngotracheitis) and you don't want to use these unless absolutely necessary, as all new birds that you get will have to be vaccinated in order to keep them from getting the very disease you're trying to prevent.

SOunds like you're doing everything you can to keep a healthy flock - keep their coop clean (reduces worm infestation), give them access to a good layer crumble, oyster shells/grit, access to sunshine and grass and lots of love... and they'll be happy and healthy.

As for the wildlife rehab - I understand completely. I hate having to euthanize animals at the rehab that I volunteer at (I don't personally have to do it, but I don't like giving up on any animal...). It's an unfortunate part of the "job". I"m rehabbing a magpie and 3 pigeons in my basement right now, and I won't give up on those guys either!

Laura
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  #5  
Unread October 24th, 2008, 18:10
chickensrule chickensrule is offline
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Default should i euthanize my hen

I think I need to euthanize my Delaware, but I needed to give her one more shot by asking if anyone recognizes one of these symptoms as definitively symptomatic of something.
My sweet Camella has taken a turn for the worst overnight. Her comb fell to one side two days ago. She has not been eating much lately, but now she is not eating at all, she only makes a quick peck at worms, gets them in her mouth and drops them. Her comb is still falling to one side. She has lost weight. She had a small bloody area around her droppings from last night. Her stools, of which there are little, have blood in them. I don't want to torture her, but this chicken means the world to me, I love her to death and I don't want to give up until I've tried everything. She will walk around for a little while, and then sit down. She will at times close her eyes and her head will droop a little, then she'll snap out of it. I want to know if there is any point in trying to drain fluid in her abdomen (i.e. egg yolk peritonitis) and force feed her, given these new developments, or if this sounds more and more like lymphoid leukosis or ovarian cancer, and I should just put her out of her misery. I obviously don't want to torture her for her last moments. I know no one can know for sure but I was just wondering if you had some thoughts on this matter.
She is drinking a lot of water.
Thank you.
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  #6  
Unread October 24th, 2008, 18:10
chickensrule chickensrule is offline
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she has been on baytril for 6 days
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  #7  
Unread October 25th, 2008, 09:45
ChrisK ChrisK is offline
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Sorry you are having problems and sorry i don't know the answers. The only thing is, is could red mite be causing the aneamia?
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  #8  
Unread October 25th, 2008, 22:49
crazychick crazychick is offline
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I answered Jon's post via email...

Laura
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  #9  
Unread December 9th, 2008, 18:28
JimZ JimZ is offline
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Default Fluid in the abdomen

First off, I would like to thank everyone on this forum for their assistance. Laura, quite simply I am in awe of your profound knowledge. I have a Bantam who has been listless for about 10 days or so, and has a pale comb. She eats and drinks normally, and her stool is ok, but refuses to roost. Anticipating some type of infection, I began using Baytril that I had left over from a previous illness about 10 days ago. Her condition improved somewhat, but she is still sluggish. The vet confirmed yesterday that she does have fluid in her abdomen, but the cause is inconclusive as a fecal scan indicated no parasite problem. After the $239 yesterday, I cannot afford the additional $300 to extract and analyze the fluid. Is there any treatment plan that I can employ, or signs to look for which would indicate the direction that this condition will take?
Thank you again for any advice that you can offer.
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