Q: Myiasis Overview
Flystrike, fly blown
Infrequent. It is more common in other animals such as sheep or horses.
General signs -
Fatigue, weakness, ruffled feathers, depression, unpleasant odor, loss of appetite, wound area picked at by other birds,death
Cardinal or diagnostic signs -
Maggots found on the skin or in a wound
Flies normally lay eggs in rotting or fecal matter. Some types of flies can infest wounds or skin lesions on chickens (and other animals), or can be drawn to lay eggs in fecal matter embedded in the bird’s feathers, such as near the vent. When the eggs hatch and maggots emerge, the resulting infestation can be very painful, and the bird can die from shock or infection. The maggots can tunnel through skin and organs, and although they don’t ingest live tissue, tissue may progressively die at the wound site due to the irritation of the maggots, infection, and the accumulation of their droppings
Not passed from bird to bird, but any injured bird--or bird with fecal matter in the feathers--may also become infested.
Communicability to humans -
Humans can also suffer from this infestation, but the infestation is not typically passed from bird to human.
Incubation period -
8 - 12 hours.
No, although infestation may not be apparent early on..
Fly species causing this problem can be found in most areas of the world.
Home treatment and/or prevention -
Prevention: Practice good biosecurity. Control flies by keeping coop and run clean. Regularly inspect your chickens for injury. If your chickens get large amounts of droppings stuck in their feathers, particularly near the vent, bathe, trim or spot clean to remove. (Understand that constant issues with droppings in the feathers near the vent can mean diarrhea, which might indicate another health problem.)
Treatment: Home treatment is difficult and painful; it is generally better to take your chicken to a vet who might have the equipment to more easily (and less painfully, perhaps with sedation) remove the infestation. However, immediate treatment can be necessary in severe infestations. When that is the case, trim feathers around the wound to determine how large it is. Use a sterile saline solution to wash maggots away from the area. Remove any remaining maggots. Until you can get an appointment to see your vet, keep the wound area clean, and inspect several times a day to remove maggots as new eggs hatch. The infestation can occur very deep in tissue, and it may not be possible to remove all maggots at home. Be sure your bird is eating and drinking while s/he recovers. This may require careful hand feeding until his/her appetite returns
Veterinary care -
Your vet can determine the extent of the infestation, and remove the maggots. If the infestation is severe, your vet can humanely sedate the chicken to remove the maggots, as the condition is extremely painful. He or she may recommend an ectoparaciticide to kill eggs or new maggots as they hatch. A vet will be able to properly hand feed your bird, and provide detailed instructions for care based on the wound site and severity of the condition.
Recovery - How a bird will respond to treatment will depend on the severity of the wound and the infestation. It is not always possible for a bird to recover; a vet can humanely euthanize your chicken, if necessary.
Other conditions, illnesses and/or diseases with similar signs:
The general symptoms such as lethargy and fatigue apply to many other illnesses, but a wound filled with maggots cannot be mistaken for anything else.