Eye worm, also known as Oxyspirura mansoni, are nematode parasites that primarily infect the eyes of birds, including chickens. These tiny worms, measuring around 1 to 2 centimetres in length, reside in the tear ducts and surrounding tissues, causing discomfort and potential damage to the bird’s eyesight.
Causes and Transmission:
Eye worms are typically transmitted through intermediate hosts, such as beetles, grasshoppers, or cockroaches. These insects serve as carriers for the infective larvae, which are ingested by chickens while foraging. The larvae migrate to the eye tissues, where they mature into adult eye worms, perpetuating the cycle.
Symptoms of Eye worm Infection:
The signs of eye worm infection in chickens can vary in severity. Here are some common symptoms to watch out for:
- Eye Irritation: Chickens affected by eye worms often display excessive blinking, rubbing their eyes against objects, or scratching their heads frequently. This behaviour is an attempt to alleviate the irritation caused by the worms.
- Conjunctivitis: Infected chickens may develop conjunctivitis, which is characterised by redness, swelling, and discharge from the eyes. The conjunctiva, the thin tissue lining the inner surface of the eyelids, may become inflamed and irritated.
- Cloudy Eyes: As the infection progresses, the eyes may appear cloudy due to the presence of eyeworms and associated inflammation. This cloudiness can impair vision and affect the bird’s overall well-being.
- Decreased Appetite and Weight Loss: Chickens experiencing discomfort and pain due to eyeworm infection may show a decreased appetite and subsequent weight loss. Reduced feed intake can lead to a decline in productivity and overall health.
Treatment and Prevention:
Please note that we are not veterinarian and only providing general information and advice. It’s important to consult with a qualified veterinarian for specific treatment recommendations for your chickens. They will have the most up-to-date knowledge on effective medications for eye worm infections in your area. That being said, here are a few commonly used medications that veterinarians may prescribe for eye worm infections in chickens:
- Ivermectin: Ivermectin is an anthelmintic medication commonly used to treat various parasitic infections in animals, including eye worms. It is available in different formulations, such as injectable, oral, or topical solutions. The specific dosage and administration method will depend on the veterinarian’s recommendation.
- Levamisole: Levamisole is another anthelmintic medication that may be effective against eyeworms. It is available in various forms, including oral solutions or powders. The dosage and treatment duration will be determined by the veterinarian based on the chicken’s condition and weight. This is the active ingredient in Avitrol Plus and Kilverm.
- Fenbendazole: While fenbendazole is primarily used to treat intestinal parasites, it may have some effectiveness against eye worms as well. It is available as an oral medication and is commonly used in poultry deworming protocols. Again, consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate dosage and treatment regimen.
It’s important to note that the specific medication and dosage will depend on factors such as the severity of the infection, the age and weight of the chicken, and any other health considerations. Veterinarians are best equipped to provide tailored treatment recommendations based on the individual needs of your flock.
For an over the counter treatment, eye worms in chickens are mostly treated by a medicine called VetRx. Add 1 tsp. of VetRx to one cup of very warm water. Administer the treatment to the chicken by holding the bird under one arm. Open the chicken’s mouth, and turn the bird down so the cleft in the roof of the mouth is in plain view. Dab the end of a cotton swab into a warm VetRx solution, and apply it directly to the cleft. VetRx will come from both sides of the beak, and pus will drain from the eyes. Clean the pus from the chicken’s eyes and allow the bird to rest. Repeat until the chicken is free of eye worms.
During the treatment period, it is important to provide supportive care to the infected chickens:
- Clean water and balanced nutrition: Ensure access to clean, fresh water at all times. Provide a well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients to support the chicken’s overall health and immune system.
- Stress reduction: Create a calm and stress-free environment for the chickens. Minimise loud noises, sudden disturbances, or overcrowding, as stress can impede the recovery process.
- Isolation and hygiene: Isolate infected chickens to prevent the spread of eyeworms to healthy individuals. Regularly clean and disinfect the coop, nesting areas, and feeders to maintain optimal hygiene.
Here are some preventive measures to consider:
- Hygiene and Sanitation: Maintain a clean and well-managed coop environment, regularly removing debris and faeces, as they can attract the intermediate hosts of eye worms.
- Pest Control: Implement effective pest control measures to reduce the population of insects that act as carriers for eye worm larvae. This includes proper waste management and regular inspection of the coop for potential infestations.
- Quarantine: When introducing new chickens to your flock, isolate them initially and monitor for any signs of eyeworm infection or other diseases. This practice helps prevent the spread of parasites and illnesses.
- Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups with a poultry veterinarian to ensure early detection of any health issues, including eyeworm infection. Timely intervention can significantly reduce the impact on your flock’s well-being.
While and eye worm infection in chickens can be distressing, prompt diagnosis, and appropriate treatment can help alleviate the discomfort and prevent long-term complications