I found having a diagnosis really helped me mentally. You feel like you don't know what to do for the best with all these sick/ailing chickens and that somehow, perhaps it's your fault, that you are doing something wrong with your flock management etc. Once you find out it is Marek's and the only thing you could have changed is to have bought vaccinated chicks.... although still no 100% guarantee for individual birds.... you don't end up with multiple birds being sick and dying..... it makes it a little easier to deal with.
The Marek's virus is pretty much everywhere, so it's no reflection on you or your management that you get it.... just a lottery.... although introducing new, even seemingly healthy birds to your flock will increase the risk. Once you get your head round the diagnosis and find out as much as you can about it, it helps in coping with it. Not sure if that makes sense, but that has been my journey. There are many people out there who don't bother to get a diagnosis when a chicken dies and keep their head in the sand as regards Marek's, but I believe it is incredibly common and perhaps through shared knowledge on forums like this, we stand a better chance of dealing with than in the past, where the general advice was to cull the flock.
I'm trying to breed for resistance, so I'm not vaccinating, but that resistance will probably only work within my flock for the strain I have. Others are vaccinating and/or trying multiple vaccines, or human herpes meds and I was recently reading about someone who believes that getting turkey farm soiled litter for the hens to pick through can help as the vaccine is made from a turkey strain of Marek's that cannot be contracted by chickens but activates their immune system to produce antibodies.... or of course, keeping turkeys with their chickens.... but this is not always a practicable option.
Anyway, I'm pleased I was able to give you some food for thought and I hope that, if it turns out to be Marek's, it's one of the milder strains.
Sadly it is often the favourites that succumb, so I sympathise re your rooster. Hope he is one of the ones that beats it.
Edited by rebrascora - 12/22/15 at 5:55am