Unlike most diseases, Encephalomalacia (try saying that three times quickly!), is not caused by a virus, bacterium, or fungus. Also known as "crazy chick disease," it is caused by a Vitamin E deficiency which results in neurological damage over time. You can keep this from ever happening to your flock by making sure they have free choice access to nutritionally-complete feeds appropriate to their age. Read on to find out more:
Crazy chick disease
Rare, particularly so in backyard flocks with access to pasture.
General signs -
Sudden loss of balance, circling, head shaking or tremors, eventually convulsions, paralysis, death
Cardinal or diagnostic signs -
Necropsy shows deteriorated brain
Nutritional deficiency of Vitamin E.
Not communicable, but many members of a flock may share this problem if they're on the same deficient feed.
Communicability to humans
None, but as a deficiency, it takes some time to develop.
Home treatment and/or prevention
Prevention: Provide a good, fresh, nutritionally balanced feed for your flock. Don't make the mistake of offering something like scratch only, or kitchen scraps only.
Treatment: Supplement with Vitamin E and Selenium (which helps Vitamin E metabolism).
A veterinarian can diagnose this problem and suggest good supplements.
In birds that haven't sustained permanent neurological damage, full recovery with supplementation and a balanced diet.
Other conditions, illnesses and/or diseases with similar signs:
Early stages may be mistaken for other neurological illnesses such as listeriosis or polyneuritis..
Also consider browsing through this list of other chicken illnesses with neurological symptoms.
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