What are the treatments for eye worms in chickens?

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What are the treatments for eye worms in chickens?
Eye worms are not to be ignored. (John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Chickens are prone to both eye infections and impairment of vision caused by eye worms. When the eyes of a chicken are affected by eye worms, it is important that treatment is provided quickly. Eye worms cause irritation, swelling, redness and, sometimes blindness. There are two recommended ways of treating a chicken with eye worms.

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The process of infestation

When a chicken with eye worms defecates, some of the worms are expelled, too. Cockroaches feed on the fecal matter of chickens. As a cockroach eats the waste material, it also ingests the worms that the chicken has passed. Those same worms then lay eggs, which grow within the cockroach. Chickens like to eat cockroaches. When a chicken eats a roach that is infected with eye worms, the eggs of the worms will begin to develop inside the chicken. The bird then becomes infected. Thus, a near-never-ending cycle begins.

Signs and symptoms

Eye worms travel from the stomach of the chicken to the esophagus. They then make their way to the mouth, and finally to the tear ducts of the eyes. Eye worms are visible to the naked eye, which makes diagnosis simple. Additionally, the chicken will display unusual behaviour, such as constant blinking. The presence of eye worms in the ducts causes irritation to the chicken. It will try and scratch its eyes to relieve the itching. Constant scratching of the eyes is a classic sign of eye worm infestation in a chicken.

Over-the-counter treatment

VetRx is a liquid remedy for treating eye worms in chickens. It is a product available at pet shops. The head of the chicken needs to be held secure when the VetRx is applied. A teaspoon of VetRx is added to a small cup of warm water. After which, a cotton-ball is used to soak up the liquid. The VetRx-water mixture is applied to the cleft in the roof of the mouth, from where it travels to the eyes. The presence of the VetRx kills the worms. Three or four treatments are required to rid a chicken of eye worms.

Consulting a vet

Liquid remedies do not always work in ridding a chicken of eye worms. In such a situation, a veterinarian will recommend that the worms are removed manually. This is achieved while the bird is sedated. It is not a dangerous procedure, but does require careful handling of the chicken. The vet will use a small, blunt, tweezers-like device to extract the worms from the eyes, one by one. When the worms are removed, the eyes are flushed to cleanse them.

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