Saturday 12 January 2013

Respiratory Infection in Chickens

Farewell Amelia

So it's been 3 weeks.  Respiratory infection in chickens is a nasty business.  I don't know if I would do the same if confronted with another beautiful girl in Amelia's condition again.  
My Amelia is gone.  My baby Rosa is without her sister.  I miss my girl.  

My Vet suggested a really strong course of antibiotics.  The kind used on people who can not overcome chronic mycoplasma.  "It's what women take when they have Pelvic Inflammatory Infection" (look it up!).   I got to pick it up from the chemist and was relieved to see 'For Animal Use Only' on the script.  Amelia hung out in her carrier in the chemist, amongst all the variously sick people - she got some worthy attention.  She was gorgeous. Unfortunately this was not the answer.

I received a new opinion from a Vet who had actually written her Thesis on birds with respiratory conditions and plaques on their throats.  She works with my regular Vet and he felt it was worth a pair of fresh eyes.  She explained that Amelia has a form of the Herpes virus in her throat and that I needed to let it 'Run its course'.  There is no cure, there is just harm management until it reaches a conclusion - if at all.  I can't quite get my head around what it must feel like to have chronic oesophageal herpes.  Poor Amelia has been swallowing all the time, coughing, struggling, food is getting stuck in her throat - it must have been debilitating.  So we were advised to keep an eye on her and to stop the anti-biotic medication.
Rosa (left) and Amelia.  Roosting to avoid the rain. 

After 1 week Amelia was really miserable.  I could see the fried egg type mass in her throat just past her tongue and took her to the Vet - a third opinion as it turned out.  But the next day when I had a good look down her throat I was really concerned.  Unable to get an appointment I dropped her off and took a quick glance in the carrier and said goodbye.  I was not aware that I would not see her alive again.

A couple of hours later I got a call from the Vet - this was the female Vet who had done the Thesis and told me about the Herpes virus.  So Amelia had her terrible ulcer type mass back in her throat - in fact a Herpes related lump of infected material that was obstructing her breathing, preventing her from enjoying and many times from eating her food and making her miserable every day.  I had the option to get a special bag inserted in to her respiratory system, protruding out of her side, under the wing, allowing her to breathe away from her throat and giving her throat a small break.  I was actually pleased to hear the Vet being straight up with me and telling me that in her opinion it was best to let Amelia go or have the bag put in to place as a short term stall.  

This is the point in pet ownership that separates the notion of keeping pets alive for your own comfort (and denial I might add) and saving them from inevitable and relentless pain and most importantly, putting them ahead of yourself.  I was out in the work car park waiting to meet someone as I talked to the Vet.  I was returning the Vet's call as I waited and I thought the call was going to be about the next step, some other intervention.   I asked the Vet to please put my girl to sleep with the greatest care possible.  

Knowing it's the right thing to do and feeling okay about the decision are not connected.  The visitor turned up and I dealt with them and at the same time felt that other part of myself reaching out to my girl, wanting to tell her how sorry I was, how much I loved her, how sorry I was for her sister Rosie who would never see her alive again and wishing I knew the answer to have avoided this moment altogether. 

It has only been 15 months, a little less in fact.  But I love my baby girl and I miss her so much.  

Goodbye Amelia.  With so much love,

Mum, Dad & Rosa xx

Amelia - January 2013.  Beautiful.