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Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 32754
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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This is about one of my chickens - a Black Rock,

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This is about one of my chickens - a Black Rock, who is somewhere around 13 weeks old. I've had her for 5 weeks. On Tuesday 3rd, she was seen falling off a perch, landing oddly on the ground. The next day, I noticed swelling under her eye, and it appeared to be a bit watery - with clear bubbles. It looks kind of like a blister. I immediately panicked and thought it was one of various horrible respiratory diseases that I've read about. I didn't immediately think of the fall being a possible injury.
On Thursday 5th, I took her to my vet, who isn't a specialist chicken vet. They do chickens, but I'm not sure if they have a huge amount of experience, which is why I'm here asking for a second opinion. :) The vet gave us some Isathal eye drops and also some Tylan soluable antibiotics for her drinking water. At this point we thought it was an eye infection, although the vet did say it didn't look like a typical eye infection.
I separated her from the rest of the flock and also gave her some nutri drops. She's been on the eye drops and antibiotics for a week now.
She does seem to be irritated by the eye, as she occasionally scratches it with her foot. I don't know if this is just because of the sting from the eye drops. She occasionally closes the eye (or both eyes) for a few seconds, before carrying on with pecking around. The thing that's confusing me is that there are no other symptoms, as far as I can tell. I've spent hours googling chicken ailments, and nothing seems to quite fit.
- She's eating greedily, as normal.
- No sign of any mucus or discharge from the nostrils. No sneezing, coughing or wheezing.
- No smell.
- She's active and behaving perfectly normally in every way, as far as I can see.
- Poo appears normal.
- I have seen her drinking, but not a huge amount. She does have some quite watery treats, though (grapes, melon).
Today, the swelling is still there. Sometimes it appears more red, sometimes it's lighter pink. It did briefly bleed a few days ago - I think she either scratched it or caught it on the wire fencing. It stopped bleeding within seconds, I washed it, and it hasn't happened again.
So after days of worrying, I thought about possible injury from the fall? Eye/sinus infection, or something else? Should I just continue with the Tylan/eye drops or do something else? Am I just being impatient in hoping for it to be better already? If it's due to injury and not respiratory, there should be no reason not to re-introduce her to the rest of the flock?
Thanks for any advice!
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Apologies, I meant to add photos.
She's gorgeous, Chris! I can only imagine that the periobital sinus is traumatized and/or infected and air has escaped and distended the conjunctiva. Antibiotic therapy is reasonable but I believe that the tincture of time is going to take care of this. I'm going to forward your excellent photos to my friend who is a specialist veterinary pathologist with an interest in poultry. I'll return to our conversation once I hear from her. It might take up to 24 hours so please be patient with me.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Chris, can you take another photo of her left eye, please. The current one is blurry and difficult to evaluate. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No problem. It's dark now and she's just come in to roost, but I caught a few before she settled down. I have her inside in the laundry room at night at the moment. A bit of a trial - I've never seen her move her head so much! Heh. I've also attached a photo of this eye from the day I first noticed it.The left eye does look different. I'm not sure how to describe it - it's more like a pink film on the eye, flatter, rather than something inflating from beside the eye.
Thank you! Yes, that's what I noticed. The "film" appears to be conjunctiva swelling over the cornea in this eye as well. Unfortunately, I don't get a good 3-D look in these photos but that's certainly not your fault. I'll send these photos along to my friend as well.
Here's what the specialist had to say: "Confusing. The right eye and left eye are from the same hen? The right eye looks like a conjunctival bleb, maybe air? But is the left eye a conjunctival swelling or anterior uveitis? This needs to be examined in person."
Can you take a close look at the left eye, please, and see if that tissue is sitting on top of the cornea or, instead, is inside the globe of the eye?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I will have a close look first thing in the morning - thanks!
Sounds good. You're welcome!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Morning!Just had an inspection. Honestly, I'm finding it very difficult to judge. I think it's inside the eye. If it's sitting on top, then it's very thin, as I can't see a definite ridge at its edge. I'm not sure if this is very helpful to you!
I understand. Please ask your vet to clarify what's going on in the eye itself. Ask if Haemophilus paragallinarum (chicken coryza) is being considered.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hello!Thanks. I guess I need to find a specialist chicken vet to take a look at her, as I'm not too sure about my local vet.I had discounted coryza because of this list of symptoms from swelling. -- Only the eye
Purulent ocular and nasal discharge. - No
Swollen wattles. - No
Sneezing. - No
Dyspnoea. - No
Loss in condition. - No
Drop in egg production of 10-40%. - Not laying yet
Inappetance. - NoAlso I thought that coryza would have quickly spread to the rest of the flock? (They were together for perhaps 48 hours before I separated her) Does the swelling being inside the eye point more towards this, then? I guess I should complete this conversation and find a vet to take a look now, really! Thankyou for all your help!
Avian vets have realized that birds don't read the books. There are atypical presentations of most every infection you can imagine. I mentioned coryza because it's so common in poultry flocks and so many birds are asymptomatic carriers. Foamy, watery eyes and swollen sinuses are most common but thankfully deaths rarely occur. It would be terrific if you could find an avian vet but I understand your logistical constraints. I can't set a follow-up in this venue and so would appreciate your returning to our conversation with an update - even after rating - at a time of your choosing.
Dr. Michael Salkin and other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Will do. Thanks!
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.
I'll watch for your next post.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hello!You asked me to give you an update. We found a really good specialist poultry vet. She didn't immediately know what had caused it, so had various swabs, samples etc. She gave us some stronger antibiotics and some anti inflammatory too.Just got the results today - coccidiosis. I didn't expect that. She's not displaying any of the symptoms I've read about. We've collected the medication and begin administering it. Just got to hope she'll be ok now! The swelling seems to have been drying up more and more for the last few days, I'm hoping that's a good sign.Anyway, thanks for all your help - I don't think we would have found this vet without your prompting.Thanks!
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Thank you for the good update, Chris. I agree, coccidiosis won't cause those symptoms. Suppressed weight gain and diarrhea are the hallmarks of coccidia. I believe that the finding of coccidia was incidental (and common). I'm happy that Hermione is doing better. I never argue with success.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hello!Sorry, I don't mean to keep bugging you - let me know if I should open a new question. But a one word reply would be fine. After you heard back from your chicken friend, are you still of the opinion that the right eye should resolve itself given enough time?I think we have to collect a top-up of medication from the vet on Monday and I'm worried that she might suggest euthanasia. I'm not going to give up on her if there's a good chance of it righting itself eventually. Especially as, other than aesthetically, she seems perfectly fine and happy.Thanks!
Neither of us could make head nor tails out of her eyes. What were you told - conjunctivitis, uveitis, something else? I agree with you; if she's otherwise well, I don't see the need to euthanize her.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
She did mumble something about the left eye (I think it was anterior uveitis, I should've asked her to write it down), but I don't think she had ever seen anything like the right eye before. Unless they just haven't told me, the eye/throat swabs were all clear. My poor hen seems to be a medical mystery! Thank you for all the help you've given me - I appreciate it.
When uveitis is seen, Marek's disease should be our first thought. There doesn't seem to be any other symptoms of Marek's, least not at this time. Keep me posted, please. No need to reply at this time.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hello!This is turning into a bit of a saga, but good news, I think. At the vet today, they had more results from the swabs. It is respiratory. They gave me a new medication - Linco-Spectin. It was the boss vet who saw us, she said that they'd made some cultures from the swabs (I don't know if this is the correct teminology) - this med had killed it. She seemed pretty confident that this would resolve it! I hope so.Thanks!
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Thanks, Chris. I'd like to know what was cultured, please.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I've just had them send a copy of the lab report - it's attached if you're interested. It says Streptococcus and E Coli, which sounds scary (!!) I don't know how these could have happened - I try to keep everything as clean as possible, clear the coop and fresh water every day, etc. They're not living in filth, and they spend most of their day in the fresh air.Also I was obviously not paying any attention at all regarding describing the left eye as a "uveitis" - this says "swollen with erythema being seen in the surface of the cornea". So much better to have things in writing!
Thank you! I appreciate your taking the time to let me know. The E. coli is most worrisome. We don't like to see gram negative bacteria in our birds. They're considered contaminants.