Mrs. Buffington’s Fly Strike

Buffy, short for Mrs. Buffington, is a 2-year old Buff Orpington. She lives with another hen named Tuffy who often hangout with Einstein the cat. Julie, their caretaker, lets them free range in her fenced in backyard during the day. At night, the hens are and locked up inside their coop.

Buffy, Tuffy and Einstein the cat

One morning in June, when Julie let the girls out of their coop, she noticed Buffy was walking a bit abnormal and had feces stuck to her vent feathers. Taking a closer look, Julie found that Buffy’s abdomen was enlarged, which was the reason the hen had difficulty walking normally and caused feces to accumulate under the vent. Within the feces, there was also tiny whitish worms (maggots).

Maggots are what hatch from fly eggs. One fly can lay hundreds of eggs at a time, which hatch within a day. Flies lay their eggs in rotting and decomposing material, which include feces and open wounds on animals. Being that it was the month of June, it was a time where flies are most abundant.

Julie initially tried calling her primary veterinarian, Dr. Pluskat at Warner Avenue Animal Hospital, however she wasn’t available until later in the afternoon, so they referred Julie to Dr. Tara Drake-Hueston, an exotic veterinarian with Westminster Veterinary Group. Dr. Drake-Hueston was able to see Buffy immediately and was close by.

Upon arrival at the veterinary hospital, Dr. Drake-Hueston trimmed back the feathers surrounding Buffy’s wound and thoroughly cleaned off the feces and maggots from the area. Once clean, a circular wound was discovered underneath the feces.

Discovery of Buffy’s fly strike (left photo), and after Dr. Drake-Hueston cleaned it up (right photo)

Buffy was discharged from the hospital with antibiotics, pain medication, and Silver Sulfadiazine (SSD) Cream to apply daily on the wound. Buffy also needed to be kept indoors for 3-4 weeks until her wound had fully healed, to help reduce the risk of more flies laying their eggs on the wound.

Buffy with Dr. Drake-Hueston (left photo) and the prescribed medications (right photo)

Upon arrival home, Julie set up a temporary recovery suite for Buffy inside the house. She accomplished this by sectioning off an area of the living room using a couple of plastic tables turned on their sides. For flooring, she used square puzzle foam mats covered with paper towels. To create a cozy nesting box area for Buffy, Julie turned a medium sized storage box on its side and placed a large bath towel to rest on inside. On top of the box, she placed another large towel, so she could close her inside, so she’d feel safe. Fresh water and feed was available to her at all times, including fresh kale (a favorite snack).

Buffy in her recovery suite

Two weeks later, Buffy was brought back to the veterinary hospital for a follow up appointment with Dr. Drake-Hueston. Dr. Drake-Hueston was happy with how Buffy's wound was healing and recommended that Julie continue keeping Buffy indoors for two more weeks and to make sure the wound stays clean.

Buffy on her way to the vet (left photo) and the wound (right photo)

Two weeks later, the wound had healed enough for Buffy to go back outside with her friend Tuffy. The timing worked out well since Julie was scheduled to take a two-week vacation.

A Healing Setback

Upon arrival home after her vacation, Julie found Buffy’s wound had reopened and was infested with maggots once again. The person who was watching Buffy and Tuffy while Julie was away told Julie that they had noticed that Buffy seemed “sad” the day before she returned home. Julie immediately made an emergency appointment for Buffy to see Dr. Drake-Hueston.

Buffy upon Julie’s arrival back home from vacation

Back to the Veterinary Hospital

Dr. Drake-Hueston examined and cleaned Buffy’s reopened wound. The hen was discharged with a 14-day course of the same antibiotics, pain medication, and SSD cream. Julie reassembled Buffy’s indoor recovery pen and started the same routine over again.

Over the next several days, Buffy rested quietly in her nestbox and rarely got up to eat or drink, other than when Julie gave her the medication. Julie ended up giving her syringes full of water because she was worried Buffy would get dehydrated since she wasn’t drinking. Buffy was also having a difficult time walking and appeared “penguin-like” with her “legs super splayed out”. Because of this, she was reluctant to walk and spent most of the time sitting.

Buffy not feeling like herself

A week later Buffy was feeling much better and had regained a normal appetite. Julie started letting Buffy outside to play during the day with Tuffy but would still bring her in each night to sleep. Every night at dusk, Buffy would come peck at the back door of the house for Julie to let her in so she could sleep inside. Julie would open the door for her to come in, give her the medications and frost her wound with the SSD cream.

Buffy pecking at the door to come in (left photo) and Buffy’s wound status (right photo)

Buffy’s Spa Sessions

Since Buffy’s wound was frequently dirty (once she started going outside during the daytime all the dirt started sticking to the SSD cream covering her wound), every 2 to 3 days Julie gave her a bath and blow-dry. Julie would bath her just before giving her the evening medication, so that she could settle in for the night inside while clean. Between bathing sessions, Julie wiped and cleaned the previous days’ SSD cream and debris off of Buffy’s wound area with unscented Huggies baby wipes.

Buffy's typical bath and blow dry session sequence

A week later, Buffy had a follow up appointment with Dr. Drake-Hueston. Dr. Drake-Hueston thought the wound was 90% healed and recommended Buffy continue sleeping indoors for a couple more days.

Buffy at her follow up veterinary appointment

Several days later, Buffy's wound had fully healed. Buffy rejoined her friend, Tuffy back outside full time.

Buffy’s healed wound

About jwlls22

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Follow Buffy on Instagram at @jwlls22! All of the photos related to this adventure are tagged under #buffysbuttwoundsaga.

About Westminster Veterinary Group

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Westminster Veterinary Group, located in Westminister, CA, provides advanced veterinary care for a wide range of animals--dogs, cats, exotic pets, small pocket pets, and birds (including poultry). Their veterinary hospital is the primary referral choice for veterinarians throughout Southern California.

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