Pet Talk
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Pet Talk

April 17, 2019

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka tells how an injured bird should be handled and also gives information on Marek’s disease

By Maneka Gandhi

Should I keep my injured bird outside in the playground during the day, or in my balcony?

Keeping the injured bird out in the open should be avoided because it will be highly vulnerable to an attack by predators, and if it is a hot day then the bird might be susceptible to further dehydration. Keeping it in a balcony or an outdoor space that is covered should be fine, as long as full supervision is provided.

How should I move the bird? Should I use a towel to hold it? Where would be an ideal place to keep it?

It is best to use a towel, blanket or coat — something that won’t overwhelm the bird by its weight. Simply drop the towel over the whole bird and gather up the bundle. Some birds, like the owl and raptors, are very strong so don’t attempt the bird with bare hands. If you feel they will attempt to bite or strike you, then you might want to gently cover their head as well. For keeping the bird, prepare a container by putting a soft cloth in a cardboard box. Make sure that there are air holes. The container should be dark and warm.

A crow pecked my hand when I was lifting it for rescue. Do I need shots?

If the crow peck did not break skin then you will not require shots. However, it is important to thoroughly clean the wound with medical disinfectant and watch out for signs of infection like swelling, red patches around wound, blisters etc. If any sign of infection are visible, or if the crow bite broke skin, then it is recommended to get the wound checked by your physician as soon as possible.

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My hen is keeping her eyes closed and has diarrhoea. Should I be worried?

Hens keep their eyes closed most of the time, it’s nothing to be concerned about. But if she is showing these two symptoms — diarrhoea and closed eyes altogether, then she might be suffering from a disease called Marek’s disease.

Marek’s disease is a common virus that occurs where there is a flock of chickens being raised. It affects young birds between the ages of 8 to 20 weeks mostly. It is caused by the herpes virus, a DNA virus. It occurs most commonly as the nervous form, with progressive paralysis in one or both limbs, and sometimes showing in neck or the wings as one of the main symptoms.

There is no cure or treatment for Marek’s disease. Those birds who are diseased should be removed from the others, and humanely destroyed. Close monitoring of your remaining birds, to see if they are infected, is important. There is a vaccination against MD that is advisable for your birds; it is not a cure, it only helps your bird to build up a resistance to the disease. In other words, just because your bird is vaccinated it is no guarantee that it will not catch this disease. It can spread rapidly in unvaccinated birds, so that they become infected. They can carry the virus for life and can shed the virus through the feather follicles, which then spreads rapidly in the dust and fluff in the environment. However, there are some preventive measures that you can take to prevent this disease. Which are: • To ensure that chicks are separated and reared so that they don’t get the infected fluff and dust of older birds; • To clean out and disinfect the shed and equipments; • To feed superior quality food; • To treat the chickens regularly from parasites. If all these preventive measures are taken into consideration, your chicken can be prevented from Marek’s disease.

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