VITAMIN C for Bacterial and Viral Infections in Chickens and ducks, New Learnings:  3/29/2014:

Several weeks ago, I read the book Curing the Incurable by Dr. Thomas Levy.  The book recounts the story of pioneering doctors, such as Dr. Frederick Klenner, of South Carolina who practiced and documented the use of high doses of intravenous Vitamin C to “cure” viral diseases such as polio.  The book also describes Vitamin C used as a therapy for bacterial diseases and inflammation.  Why Vitamin C therapy has not become central to the practice of human medicine is a mystery.

Since 2004, an effective new way of delivering high doses of Vitamin C has become available, i.e., liposomal Vitamin C.  This is technology makes use of lipid molecules that bind to lipids on one end and water on the other. These molecules form protective spheres around the Vitamin C that enable it to pass through the digestive tract and into the system without reduction in bio-availability.  Livon Labs makes this stuff.   Amazon sells it.

I have begun to use liposomal Vitamin C to successfully treat chicks with the viral disease fowl pox.  It is vital that the chick receives supportive care such that it is adequately nourished and hydrated throughout the treatment. For chicks that start treatment early enough,  lesions, on and around eyes and mouth, drop off within 2 days and no new lesions develop.

With any other treatment I have tried, lesions take up to 2 weeks to resolve and new lesions appear  until the disease resolves. About 25% of the birds survive.  Apparently survival rates are higher in other areas.

Most signficantly, for treating bacterial infections, such as bumblefoot, I have also tried using liposomal Vitamin C for a chicken that had an infection in her throat.  Her throat was blocked so that food and water would not pass, and the airway was partially blocked.   I gave her Vitamin C and honey, every 12 hours, through her vent.  She was able to stand and move around, for five days but the lack of adequate nourishment weakened her and I was not able to save her despite being able to poke a hole in the material to allow me to insert a catheter down her throat to crop feed hers.  I did a post mortem examination and found that the yellow solid material was about 50% disintegrated.  If I had been able to insert the catheter before she became weakened, I think that I would have been able to save her.    By comparison, in a similar case several years ago, oral antibiotics available to me, did not have the same effectiveness and speed in disintegrating the yellow solid material in the bird’s throat.  In addition, in talking to our local feed store chicken guy, he said that he was successful in saving a chicken with this condition by massaging the neck and using long, think forceps to gently pull the cheesy material out of the throat.

I also intend to try the Vitamin C therapy in the next case of bumblefoot.

As in human treatment with vitamin C, the most important thing is to get the dosage high enough to be therapeutic.     I will be trying to establish appropriate dosages.   I will also be using the vitamin C for any birds that get respiratory conditions.

I hope this information is helpful.


HISTORY:  Imelda, our first Pekin duck, seemed to have a tendency to get bumblefoot when the weather get cold and mucky.  The first year, Dr. Tom (a lovely vet who now work for a zoo in Poland) treated her with antibiotic and the infection slowly responded. When the problem reappeared the next year, I couldn’t face another expensive course of antibiotics. I decided to try something else, and hooray, it worked.

First I made her a duck boot out of neoprene. See the pictures below.

For a few days I gave her a daily oral dose of Tylan 50 antibiotic (1 ml) I also did something I learned from the game cock people, I dribbled some Tylan right into the boot and on the wound. I also daubed her foot with dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) to try to reduce swelling and increase circulation. So the foot was in a moist, clean boot.

The callous covering the wound became soft after a day or two and I kinda dug at it each day till the wound opened up. Then I’d sluice Tylan and DMSO in it and wrap it up again. Finally, the callous came out altogether and there was a nice clean hole in her foot. At that point the wound seemed to shrink rapidly over the next few days. I decided to discontinue oral antibiotic and just treated the wound. The swelling and inflammation which had been large, hot and angry looking was deflated to less than a third of the size with no redness. The scab area is about a 3/16” in diameter. See picture below. All of this happened in about a week and a half. So it has been a much faster recovery than the previous 2 month treatment with oral antibiotics. I’m not afraid of bumblefoot any more.

Imelda, is gone now, but her son, a handsome Muscovy/Pekin, is one of the select few ducks who roam freely by the stable and come into the barn to mooch at feeding time.  Mostly the stable ducks are  those that I treated for broken legs or the very rare illness.   My patients seem to like it at the stable, because when I take them back to the duck yard they fly back over to the stable.

I need to add something here about lead.   At one point, in 2012,  folks on the farm were shooting rats with a pellet gun in the duck yard.  I began to have healthy ducks and geese getting very sick and dying very quickly.   This was very unusual because ducks are so healthy and trouble free if you feed them properly and make clean water available, and give them proper sanitation.  I looked at symptoms and what was different about what we were doing.   Then one day it hit me that there must be pellets left on the ground.    I looked up lead poisoning in water fowl and of course the answer was obvious.  I put a ban on shooting and ducks stopped getting sick.   I was able to save a number of the ducks who got sick with good nursing care – mainly, lots of hydration delivered via a catheter.  The sickest duck that I was able to save, came to me virtually unconscious with her head lolling down.   She has since returned to the duck yard and had ducklings.     So, be aware of what gets introduced into your environment. Lead is terribly toxic for both humans and animals.  I don’t understand why lead pellets would be legally available.

One little story about Imelda – we used to take her over to the pond area by the pavilion, a good 400′ away from the duck yard.  Sometimes things would get hectic and we would forget to take her back.  There would be a session of panic and distress, thinking that something had happened to her;  but no, she had walked through the garden, crossed the bridge and gone through the horse yard, and would be waiting patiently by the gate to the duck yard.  She was a great duck!