Having lost one of my Exchequer Leghorn hens last week to this horrible disease I decided to do a bit of research.
I noticed that said hen had developed an abscess on the side of her face just under her eye, which had caused her eye to close completely, and was utterly blind on that side. I left her for a few days to see if it would clear up of its own accord, but come Monday it hadn't got any better so sought veterinary help.
An injection of antibiotics was given and another appointment booked for three days after. It was on the second visit that I was given the bad news.
'It's a highly contagious disease,' the vet said, 'one that if the hen gets over it, will cause her to be a carrier of the disease for the rest of her life and then obviously infect the rest of your flock. The hen will not be as strong and fit and she was previously, considerably a poor doer, and therefore may not lay any eggs. I think the only cause of treatment would be to euthanaise. Sorry!' he said.
Well I was stunned as you can imagine and came away from the vets with a doomed chicken in my cat basket.
I pondered the pros and cons all afternoon, until Hubby came home and we discussed it. The outcome being that it would be no life for her if she was 'not quite right' for the rest of her days, and I didn't want to risk the health of the rest of the flock. So unfortunately she was put down.
The disease is one that affects the respiratory tract and immune system, swollen sinuses are typical of the disease - see pic below. It can also affect the kidneys.
Not very attractive, I think you'l agree.
The disease affects chickens, ducks, turkeys and wild birds, so take care if wild birds can get access to your drinkers, feeders etc as the disease can also last on these implements for a couple of hours too. Stress i.e. moving birds into the flock, new housing, weather changes, changes in diet, is a major factor in this disease erupting.
Basic hygiene and welfare standards are paramount in the control of this disease. Vaccination is possible, but only available in large doses, so would be expensive. Veterinary treatment with antibiotics is possible, but with the outcome as described above.
A sad day, but everyone else (touching wood), is fine.
Stats today -
Sales = 1/2 dozen eggs £1.00
1 bunch of Daffodils £0.50
Expenses = nil
Eggs produced = 5