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How to Treat Foamy Eye in Chickens

foamy eyes in chicken

Are you starting to notice that your chicken has something in its eye?

You thought it would just disappear, but it doesn’t.

There are plenty of chicken eye diseases to look out for, and one of them is foamy eyes in chickens.

Foamy eye, also known as mycoplasmosis, or the common cold, is an eye infection that affects chickens.

It manifests as the accumulation of foam or discharge around the eyes, leading to discomfort and potential vision impairment.

In this article, we will discuss the signs, causes, treatment, and prevention of foamy eye in chickens.

Read on to know more!

Foamy Eye in Chickens: Causes

One of the primary causes of a foamy eye in chickens is bacterial infections, commonly brought about by bacteria such as Mycoplasma gallisepticum, infectious bronchitis, and avian chlamydia.

Viruses like Newcastle disease can also contribute to foamy eyes in chickens.

Poor living conditions, overcrowding, inadequate ventilation, and dusty environments can increase the likelihood of eye infections.

Poor nutrition may make it harder for your flock to fight off these ailments, making foamy eye and other problems even more devastating.

wet chickens

What Are the Symptoms of Foamy Eye?

The most evident symptom (and probably the first you’ll notice) is the foamy discharge around the eye.

Beyond this, you’ll start to see new signs as well.

Each symptom will change based on what is causing the issues, so examine the bird(s) closely to rule out different issues and then treat your flock accordingly.

Mycoplasma Gallisepticum Symptoms

Infected eyes may appear swollen and reddened alongside foamy and watery eyes.

The chickens often squint excessively or keep their eyes closed tightly.

Foamy eyes are uncomfortable at best, so they will not want to keep their eyes open.

The sinuses will be swollen, plus the chicken will probably have some sneezing, nasal drainage, or congestion.

Infected chickens will likely exhibit lethargy and reduced activity levels. They may stay in the coop or even on the roost all day.

Hens will decrease their egg production or stop laying eggs altogether.

The eggshell color may change, and any chicks that hatch from these eggs will be infected.

In serious conditions, the chickens may suffer from swollen joints and lameness.

Infectious Bronchitis Symptoms

This form of bronchitis is a member of the coronavirus family.

It manifests in young birds with symptoms such as sneezing, foamy eyes, and swollen sinuses.

Just like Mycoplasma Gallisepticum, it can influence the oviduct, altering egg shells’ colors and quality.

However, it differs from Mycoplasma because it doesn’t transmit to chicks through the egg.

This is good news, especially for those incubating eggs (rather than letting the mother brood them).

Therefore, isolating young chicks from adults can effectively reduce infection rates.

Here are some common symptoms of infectious bronchitis in chickens:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rattling or crackling sounds during breathing, called tracheal rales
  • Watery eyes
  • Nasal discharge (usually green or yellow)
  • Decreased or halted egg production
  • Poor egg quality–soft or misshapen eggs are more common
  • Lethargy
  • Depression, isolation, not leaving the roost
  • Huddling up together
  • Lack of appetite, reduced feed intake
  • Young chickens may grow considerably slower with little weight gain
  • Drinking noticeably more water

Severe Infectious Bronchitis infections in young female birds may lead to permanent oviduct damage.

This prevents the proper transfer of yolks from the ovary, resulting in internally laid eggs.

While these internally laid eggs are gradually absorbed by the bird, they create an ideal environment for bacterial growth, leaving internal layers susceptible to egg yolk peritonitis.

If the absorption rate lags behind the pace at which the chicken continues to lay eggs internally, a buildup of yolks in the chicken’s abdomen can occur.

As a result, your chickens will have an awkward penguin-like stance and respiratory difficulties.

This is often fatal over time and very painful to boot.

chicken dislocated leg lying weak sick

Laryngotracheitis Virus Symptoms

Infectious Laryngotracheitis Virus (ILV) is a contagious viral infection that affects chickens, causing respiratory tract issues.

This virus primarily targets the larynx and trachea, leading to inflammation and other respiratory symptoms.

ILV is a member of the family Herpesviridae, specifically the Iltovirus genus.

Chickens infected with ILV may exhibit signs such as watering or foaming eyes, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and respiratory distress.

Hens will lay fewer eggs, broilers will drop weight (or slow their growth), and all birds will eat and drink less due to severe lethargy and a subdued appetite.

After a while, the symptoms get worse.

This includes progressing into gasping for air, coughing up bloody mucus, and a bloody discharge from the mouth and nose.

The virus can spread rapidly within a flock through respiratory secretions and direct contact between infected and susceptible birds.

The severity of the disease can vary, ranging from mild respiratory distress to more severe cases characterized by coughing fits, gasping for breath, and, in some instances, mortality.

Once birds have ILV, they carry it for life and can spread it to others at any time.

Morbidity is very high, ranging from 50% to 100%.

Newcastle Disease Symptoms

Newcastle Disease (ND) is a highly contagious viral infection that affects birds, including chickens.

The severity of symptoms can vary, and some infected birds may not show clinical signs.

Here are common Newcastle Disease symptoms to look for in addition to the foamy eyes.

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Gasping for air
  • Nasal discharge
  • Greenish diarrhea
  • Twisting of the neck (torticollis)
  • Circling
  • Paralysis of the wings and legs
  • Swelling of the tissues around the eyes and neck
  • Edema of the face and comb
  • Reduced or ceased egg production in laying hens
  • General lethargy and/or depression
  • Bluish discoloration of the comb and wattles (due to a lack of oxygen)
  • Some birds may die suddenly without showing any significant signs.

Aspergillosis in Ducks

How to Treat Foamy Eye in Chickens

Depending on which illness your chicken has, you’ll need to offer supportive care and/or administer antibiotics or medications tailored to the specific pathogen causing the foamy eye.

Mycoplasma Gallisepticum Treatment

For Mycoplasma Gallisepticum, the best treatment is good supportive care.

For this instance, you are basically treating a common cold.

This one spreads quickly, but luckily, the mortality rate is low, and it should leave your coop relatively soon.

If possible, remove the infected chickens from the coop to quarantine them.

Offer sick and potentially infected chickens plenty of good feed, clean and fresh water, electrolytes, and all the vitamins and minerals they need.

Probiotics are a fantastic help, too.

Be careful not to spread the virus from sick to healthy chickens with unwashed hands, infected boots, or clothing.

Practice good biosecurity to keep everyone safe.

Infectious Bronchitis Treatment

There is no specific antiviral treatment for Infectious Bronchitis (IB) in chickens, as it is a viral infection caused by a coronavirus.

Therefore, management and prevention strategies play a crucial role in controlling the spread of the disease.

Here are some general guidelines for dealing with Infectious Bronchitis in chickens:

  • Immediately isolate infected birds from the rest of the flock to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Quarantine new birds before introducing them to the flock to ensure they are not virus carriers.
  • Offer plenty of supportive care, such as high-quality nutrition, fresh water, probiotics, vitamins, minerals, and a clean area for your chickens.
  • Maintain a clean and comfortable coop and run for affected birds and ensure good ventilation.

Laryngotracheitis Virus Treatment

ILV does not have a specific antiviral medication available for this viral infection, but there are a few options for you to use extra-label.

Doxyvet and Liquamycin LA-200 are popular antibiotic choices.

Most birds who recover will do so in about two weeks.

Supportive care is really important during this time, not just in the hope that the birds will recover but also so they will be comfortable, whether they survive or not.

Keep the dust down, offer plenty of fresh water, and make sure your flock is in a peaceful and quiet place.

If you have noisy members of the flock, relocate them until the sick birds are better.

Newcastle Disease Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for Viral Newcastle Disease (vND) in chickens.

It is a viral infection caused by avian paramyxovirus type 1 (APMV-1), and the best approach is prevention through vaccination and biosecurity measures.

Vaccination is the primary means of preventing Newcastle Disease.

Consult with a veterinarian to develop an appropriate vaccination program for your flock.

Vaccination is especially important in areas where ND is endemic.

Implement strict biosecurity practices to prevent the introduction and spread of the virus.

This includes controlling access to the poultry farm, disinfecting equipment and footwear, and preventing contact with wild birds.

Isolate infected birds to prevent the spread of the virus within the flock.

Quarantine new additions to the flock to ensure they are not virus carriers.

In severe outbreaks, culling may be necessary to control the spread of the virus.

Infected birds and those in close contact with them should be culled, and proper disposal methods should be followed.

Newcastle Disease is a reportable disease in many countries. If you suspect ND in your flock, contact relevant authorities and comply with reporting and control measures.

Here in the US, you will need to report it to the Department of Agriculture.

cleaning coop tools

Supportive Care for Chickens with Foamy Eye

Applying a warm compress to the affected eye can help soothe discomfort and promote the drainage of excess discharge.

Use a clean cloth soaked in warm water and hold it against the eye for a few minutes.

Some herbs, such as chamomile and calendula, are known for their anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.

Since their eyes are usually swollen (inflamed) this is really helpful and eases the discomfort almost right away.

Improve their living conditions by minimizing dust, improving ventilation, and ensuring adequate space for each chicken.

A clean and well-maintained environment can contribute significantly to the recovery process.

How to Treat Foamy Eye in Chickens: FAQ

Why Is My Chicken’s Eye Foamy?

Foamy eyes in chickens can be a symptom of various respiratory infections, such as Mycoplasma or Infectious Bronchitis.

It is crucial to identify the underlying cause through a proper diagnosis.

How Do You Treat Foamy Eyes?

Treatment for foamy eyes involves addressing the underlying respiratory infection.

Isolate the affected bird, provide supportive care, and consult with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan, which may include antibiotics.

Note that many antibiotics now require a prescription from a vet.

How Do You Treat Mycoplasma in Chickens?

Unfortunately, Mycoplasma infections in chickens are usually chronic.

On the bright side, it is comparable to a common cold and is rarely deadly.

Treatment typically involves long-term antibiotic therapy, good biosecurity, and supportive care.

How Do You Treat a Hen’s Eye Infection?

For eye infections, you’ll have to first identify the cause and then treat it accordingly.

Most of the time, it requires a clean, quiet space, good food, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, fresh water, and no loose dust.

Can You Eat Eggs from Chickens with Mycoplasma?

Eggs from chickens with Mycoplasma infections are safe to eat. They will not infect or harm people in any way.

The eggs may change in color and quality, and the hens will likely lay fewer eggs, but these eggs are totally safe to eat.

Does Mycoplasma Live in the Soil?

Mycoplasma is primarily an airborne bacterium and does not persist for long periods in the soil.

It is usually transmitted through direct contact.

What Is the Best Antibiotic for Mycoplasma?

Tetracyclines (e.g., oxytetracycline) and macrolides (e.g., tylosin) are commonly used antibiotics for treating Mycoplasma infections in chickens.

These are used as “white label” or “extra label”.

You may need a veterinarian’s prescription to get access to these antibiotics now, so please call your local clinic to get the help you need for your flock.

Foamy Eye in Chickens: Before You Go…

Foamy eye in chickens can be a challenging condition, but with prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment, most cases can be successfully managed.

Always consult with a poultry veterinarian to ensure effective procedures for your flock.

Proper biosecurity measures and a proactive approach to flock health are crucial in preventing and managing diseases like Mycoplasma.


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