Attention! This is a potentially life-threatening condition for your bird and possibly your flock. Time is of the essence, contact your veterinarian immediately.Find me a Vet

Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning is one of the most commonly reported toxic conditions in both wild and domestic ducks. In wild ducks, it is often caused by lead shotgun pellets. In domestic birds, it is often caused by ingestion of a number of different commonly found items around the home, or exposure to urban soils with high lead content.

Lead poisoning can occur as an acute or chronic condition. The chronic condition occurs slowly, over time. Once the duck ingests the material, it is retained in their gizzard where is is slowly ground down and absorbed into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodsteam, lead causes pansystemic damage, particularly to the gastrointestinal nervous, renal and hematopoietic systems.

Symptoms

Loss of appetite
Crop stasis
Diarrhea
Body tremors
Abnormal behavior
Seizures
Lethargy
Depression
Ataxia
Lameness
Paresis
Reduced egg production
Weight loss
Weakness (wing drooping, leg paresis)
Head tilt
Circling
Convulsions
Blindness
Death

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiographs
  • Laboratory tests

Treatment

MethodMethod Summary
Edetate calcium disodium (CaEDTA)10-40 mg/kg twice daily intramuscularly (IM-IV)
D-Penicillamine (PA)55 mg/kg orally, twice daily
Multiple B vitamins
Iron dextran
Intravenous lactated Ringer's
Dimercaprol (BAL)2.5 mg/kg IM every 4 hours for two days, then twice daily for up to 10 days or until clinical signs resolve
Removal of the source of the toxin from the body - mineral oil may help with the passage of small particles of heavy metal out of the gastrointestional tract.
Activated charcoal

Prevention

  • Test lead content of soil
  • Remove any materials containing lead from property

References

Blogs