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Swelling of the Eye Sinuses

Craig Hopkins

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            I get many phone calls and emails through out the year describing peafowl that have swelling of the eye sinuses.  The severity of the swelling can range from just some puffiness below the eye to an eye that is so swollen that it is on the verge of bursting.  I would like to use this article to help peafowl breeders treat this problem and more importantly prevent it from happening in the first place. 

            I have helped fellow breeders with this problem during all seasons of the year but late summer and fall seem to be a common time for peafowl to have this illness.  My own experience was during the late summer.  A friend of mine was keeping some of my surplus breeders at his house.  In the pen next to the peafowl were a dozen guineas.  The guineas were on a cement floor with straw bedding.  Guineas love to scratch through their bedding and they generate a lot of dust.  Within a couple weeks the first peacock showed signs of swelling in the soft tissue below the eye.  A second peahen had swelling the next day.  Both of these birds were isolated and given medications in their drinking water.  Two different medicines were given and neither medication reduced the swelling.  A week had passed for the first peacock and his eye sinus was now swollen to about half the size of a ping-pong ball.  The peacock also would cough and shake his head to try to get rid of excess mucous in his beak and throat. 

            I decided to try Tylan 200 on these birds since Tylan 200 has proven to be very effective for me in treating any respiratory problem.  Both birds were given 2cc in the breast muscle using a 3 cc syringe and an 18 gage needle.  Within a day the swelling was gone in the peahen and the swelling was almost gone in the peacock.  A second shot two days after the first shot brought the peacockís eye sinus back to normal and cleared up the excess mucous. 

            I chose to treat this problem as a respiratory illness because of the swelling in the eye sinuses and the excess mucous in the throat.  I also observed that a second pen of peafowl, in a separate building away from the guineas and the dust, never were affected. 

            Once I determined that the illness was being caused by the dust stirred up by the guineas, the guineas and peafowl were placed in separate buildings.  The dusty pens were completely cleaned out and disinfected with Tektrol.  The pens were allowed to dry out for a day and clean straw bedding was placed in the pens.  I have kept peafowl in these pens without any further illness problems.  I have made it a standard procedure to spray down all pens with Tektrol after all of the old bedding has been removed.

            In the years that have passed since my own experience with this illness, I have helped dozens of peafowl breeders treat birds with the same symptoms.  The common thread between all of these breeders has been that the peafowl were being kept in a dusty environment.  The excess dust can be caused by guineas, chickens, too many peafowl in a given space, poor ventilation, moldy bedding, and fine, dusty feed.  The dry, dusty conditions of late summer and fall in many areas seems to make this illness more prevalent as well. 

            There are several diseases that can cause similar symptoms in peafowl and poultry.  There is an excellent listing of diseases and their symptoms on the UPA web site  If peafowl donít respond to the treatment described earlier, I would take the birds to a vet.  Baytril is another drug that is very affective for respiratory illnesses but it has to be prescribed by a vet.  I chose to use Tylan 200 because I have had excellent results with it and it can be purchased over the counter.  Tylan 200 is a cattle antibiotic and it is not labeled for use on peafowl so use it with this understanding.

            If the eye sinuses are severely swollen and have been for several days, you may have to have a vet lance the swollen area once the swelling goes down because the fluid has hardened and will not go down completely to normal size. 

            I have written this article based on my experience in raising peafowl.  I am not a vet so if you have any questions regarding the medications and dosages listed, please ask a vet prior to treating your peafowl.

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