Eye worms are an unusual form of worms that exist in birds, livestock and some domestic animals. In rare instances, humans have contracted eye worms. The worms lay eggs on the eye; the resulting larvae passe through the intestinal tract. Eye worms are found in humid and tropical environments. In the United States, the worms are more common in the South, where cockroaches are present to act as a second host.
Prevention is the first step in protecting your chickens from infection. If you live in a region with cockroaches present, hire an exterminator to remove the roaches. Also, place cockroach traps around your coop to discourage entry. Chickens who eat cockroaches are susceptible to eye worm infections. Also, do a thorough cleaning of your coop and run. Remove all of the chicken feces and old bedding to help prevent cockroaches from eating the feces and hosting worm eggs.
The rare nature of eyeworms means few drug options are available. VetRx is the standard treatment, and regular application is required. Mix the medicine at a ratio of 1 teaspoon per cup of water; warming the water first helps dissolve the drug and creates an even mixture. To administer, hold the chicken and open the mouth with a finger. Swab the drug on the roof of the mouth to treat the inner eye.
If VetRx treatment fails, a visit to a veterinarian is necessary. The veterinarian will flush the eye and physically remove the worms with forceps and surgical tools. The procedure does not require incisions, but local anesthetics are necessary to reduce stress and pain. Drug treatment may be required on a continual basis following the procedure to ensure that the worms are eliminated.
Quarantine Flock Treatment
Quarantine is a critical step to preventing the spread of eye worms in your flock. Remove all infected chickens the instant eye worms are discovered. Clean the coop and continue with the preventative measures to reduce the potential for an outbreak. Treat the quarantined animals. Do not return them to the flock until the eye worms are completely eliminated.
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