Chicken Eyes Under Siege: Abscesses or Pus – Identifying the Culprits

Some diseases can cause mild inflammation in the chickens but your flock will survive. Other infections can kill all of your chickens because of the severity of the disease. Coryza can kill our chickens because it can transmit from one chicken to the others. Because the pathogen can move from one chicken to another, the transmission is high.

I have two chickens now with these symptoms. My dear old Miss Fanny and a new one I haven’t given a name yet. Miss Fanny

So I called my local veterinarians and a referral centre upstate to gather some information. Here’s what I learned.

Expert Insight from My Vet

An abscess near a chicken’s eye is typically a sign of bacterial infection, possibly caused by pecking, injury, or an underlying health issue. My recommendation is immediate isolation of the affected chicken to prevent the spread of infection to other birds.

Careful cleaning of the abscess with a saline solution is advisable, followed by the application of an appropriate antibiotic ointment. However, systemic antibiotics may be required, depending on the severity. A thorough examination by an avian veterinarian is crucial to determine the underlying cause and to prescribe a precise treatment plan.

Monitoring the bird’s behaviour, appetite, and general health is important. Additionally, reviewing and improving coop hygiene and management can prevent future occurrences. Early and effective intervention is key to ensuring the health and well-being of your feathered patient.

Coryza in chickens, a disease caused by Avibacterium paragallinarum, is characterized by severe inflammation, eye abscesses, sinus and mandibular inflammation, and a significant 40% reduction in egg production. Symptoms can escalate to closed eyes due to pus adhesion. Coryza’s mortality rate of 20% is manageable with antibiotics, Bacterin, Erythromycin, and Fluoroquinolones.

Preventive measures include vaccination and maintaining a healthy environment. PCR testing is essential for accurate diagnosis. Management strategies involve isolating infected chickens and potentially culling the flock in severe cases. Carrier chickens contribute to its spread.

The differentials for abscesses near the eye in chickens, as mentioned in this article, include:

  1. Injury to the Eyes: Physical trauma or injury to the eye area can lead to the formation of pus around the eyes, which might be mistaken for an abscess caused by an infection like Coryza.
  2. Fungal Infections: Fungal pathogens can infect the eye area, leading to symptoms that mimic those of Coryza, including the development of abscesses.
  3. Viral Infections Causing Conjunctivitis: Certain viruses can cause conjunctivitis in chickens, which may result in pus formation around the eyes, similar to the presentation of Coryza.
  4. Other Bacterial Infections: Besides Coryza, other bacterial infections could potentially cause similar symptoms, including abscess formation near the eye.

You might also consider reading my complete guide to respirator disease in chickens here…

Coryza: Causative Agent And Transmission Route

Bacteria or viruses are responsible for most of the diseases in chickens. A bacteria called Avibacterium paragallinarum is the causative agent for this disease. This bacteria can enter the chicken by physical contact with other chickens.

Once it enters the chicken, it can start growing inside the respiratory tract. It will divide and produce chicken abscess near the eye. Chicken with infection can transmit it to others by physical contact. There are some other means this disease can spread.

The bacteria can enter the water if an infected chicken is drinking from it. When the other chickens drink the same water the bacteria enter the other chickens too.

Some chickens that do not have an active chicken abscess near the eyes can also transmit the disease because these are carriers. Carrier chickens do not have symptoms of the infection but bacteria is present inside the chickens.

These chickens can also transmit the disease at the same rate as the chickens with active infection.

The Comprehensive Guide to Respiratory Disease in Chickens

Explore our essential guide on respiratory diseases in pets. Arm yourself with the knowledge to keep your feathered friends healthy and breathing easy

Coryza’s symptoms and clinical signs

You cannot diagnose a disease if you do not know about the signs and symptoms. In the case of Coryza, you will not see the symptoms until the disease has progressed.

In the early stages, there will be no signs as the chicken is only the carrier without infection. At later stages, the infection can end with mild symptoms or it can become severe.

In case of mild symptoms, the chicken will only get some inflammation in the sinus area. The chickens can reduce egg production by 40% due to depression caused by this disease. The mortality rate of Coryza is 20%. In case of severe disease, the chicken can get severe inflammation in the sinus and mandibular area.

You may see the chicken abscess near the eye in severe cases. In some cases, the eyes of the chicken are closed due to the adhesion of the pus. The body temperature of the chicken may also increase due to infection.

A close-up of the new chick with no name yet, where you can clearly see the swelling in the white just below the eye. Private photo.

Coryza Treatment: How to Treat Chicken Abscess Near Eye

Giving healthy food and medication is essential for the treatment of the disease. Some birds may respond to antibiotics. The mortality rate is 20% but it can decrease by using the Bacterin.

We can use two standard doses of this antibiotic to reduce the mortality in the chicken. There are some other antibiotics like Erythromycin and Fluoroquinolones.

These antibiotics have shown promising results in reducing mortality due to Coryza.

Prevention and Control

Prevention is better than cure in the case of Coryza. You can prevent the disease before it starts by vaccinating your chickens. The vaccine is available for Coryza disease. It can prevent infection. You can also prevent the infection by giving a healthy environment to the chickens.

It is better to keep monitoring the chickens for any signs of Coryza disease. If you see any signs in chickens, it is better to separate the infected chickens and start treatment in others.

If the infection has already started, you can control it by using antibiotics. In some cases, there is no choice but to cull all the flock present at that time and disinfect the area before putting in another flock.

Other diseases to consider (differential diagnosis)

When you see pus around the eyes of your chicken, you should not conclude that it is Coryza disease. It is better to go for PCR testing to confirm the disease before culling the flock.

An injury to the eyes of the chicken can also cause pus around the eyes. Some viruses can also produce pus in the eyes of chickens because the viruses can cause conjunctivitis.

Fungal infection in the eyes of chickens can spread quickly and show the same pattern as coryza. In the case of other diseases, you may not say a 40% reduction of eggs and 20% mortality. The chicken’s body temperature will also not elevate.

Since poor old Miss Fanny is an old girl, I think I’ll have to let her go (see my guide on how to humanely cull a chicken here…). It is properly the most humane thing to do. The one, on the other hand, shows promising results from the treatment.

I might even name her Young Miss Fanny.

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