BackYard Chickens › BYC Forum › Raising BackYard Chickens › Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures › Mareks or Ocular Mareks? Could this be why my birds are getting ill?
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Mareks or Ocular Mareks? Could this be why my birds are getting ill?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

HI there,

 

I have done a few quite a few posts now about sick birds and I think I am coming to the bottom of it. Maybe? I have read a lot about Mareks but I still have some specific questions.

 

I have had 2 birds get sick and I have had to kill from things that were a little different. One had water belly and one had possibly salpingitis. These birds were the same age (older) and Red sex links.

 

I have had one young one young buff orpington pullet die of what seemed to start as an eye infection or injury. Another one her age was acting sick shorty after but I treated with antibiotics and she got better. 

 

I had one pullet (dominique) that I brought back to the hatchery that I got her from who could not walk well. Maybe partial paralysis? One leg ended up going forward and one going back. And she walked on the bottom part of leg instead of feet. The hatchery lady seemed to think it was an injury. 

 

 

I have one bird (older red sexlink) now who seems to have hard things in her abdomen that are not like eggs being egg bound. She acts ill on and off but still pretty normal now. Maybe are tumors internal laying? I am just observing her daily and checking her.

 

I have another older red sex link who has had a grayish looking eye from the beginning when I got her and I thought maybe it was ocular mareks but everyone else seemed fine so I was not to worried. She commonly has a poopy bottom and acts a little ill on and off but generally fine still.

 

On top of this all, one of my younger hens ( Dominique, same age and breed as the one I gave back to the hatchery because of the leg issue) now has a pupil that looks like a star going across the whole eye and it seems to be a little swollen and bothering her because she is closing the eye. In fact she has always had grayish color eyes but I thought that was just her bread. Do Dominiques generally have grey eye?

 

So as you can see I have a crazy amount of issues and I am just sick to my stomach and fed up with it all. I kind of want to quit being a chicken owner in general...but I really don't. 

 

With all this I am starting to wonder about Mareks disease. I am pretty sure there is at least ocular mareks in the flock. One question I have about ocular Mareks, can birds get the same symptoms as the other type of mareks disease? Could ocular mareks be what has made all my other birds ill as well even if they never had the regular ocular mareks symptoms?

 

or does mareks lead to ocular mareks or vise versa? Or would my birds have to have been exposed to both types of mareks for both of them to be in my flock?

 

I got all these birds from the same hatchery. Supposedly the red sex links and buff orpingtons were not actually hatched there though. I was planning  on getting rid of the rest of the sex links I have because I have had so many issues with them and keep the younger birds I have still because they have been fine until this new eye issue came up. Also I was going to get new chicks from a different certified hatchery at the end of this month hoping to start with a clean slate after the red hens were gone. However, I know that if there is mareks in the flock, the younger birds I have probably all have it and it can live in the coop, run and soil for years so I would probably still give it to my new birds.

 

I was planning on making sure all new birds were vaccinated but I do not know if the ones I have already are.

 

If anyone has any thoughts about if this is Mareks, Ocular mareks, or both, I would appreciate it.

 

Also what would you do if you had possible mareks? cull all? cull the older ones with the most issues only? start over with all new vaccinated birds only? stop raising chickens? 

 

Thanks in advance for the help. I have really been struggling with chicken keeping and I know a lot of people that have no issues at all even though I take better care of my birds then they do. So it is really heartbreaking to have one things after the next pop up. 

post #2 of 9

Hi Katie... its tough to try to tie all of those puzzle pieces to any one thing or another. There has been ages of argument over mareks, and whether birds should or shouldn't be vaccinated. Though mareks can cause or show in an ocular form referred to as "gray eye", I believe/understand that is not the most common manner it shows itself. The occular "version" is not different from any other form... just a different manner of display. Mareks is mareks. If you mix vaccinated birds with non vaccinated birds, the non vaccinated birds can become infected.

 

Personally, were it me, I would think this is a hatchery related issue if all these birds came from the same place. I would start replacing them with vaccinated birds from a new hatchery.

 

The best way to find out the issue with a dead bird would be to send one of them off for necropsy to a lab. Most state veterinary colleges offer this kind of support. You could also contact a vet or county extension agent to find out lab options.

 

Sorry you're dealing with all this and I can understand your frustration and aggravation. It is time consuming, costly, and an emotional/physical drain. Hang in there and good luck!

I used FF: http://goo.gl/IT5HSh Details Here: http://goo.gl/dCdw6h  Start Easy video: http://goo.gl/QP5rSx

DLM/deep litter method: http://goo.gl/YHg2p0 My old CO coop(s): http://goo.gl/v9qdFa  URL shortener:  https://goo.gl/

I owned: BOs/BAs/New Hampshires/Delawares/White Wyandottes when in CO.

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I used FF: http://goo.gl/IT5HSh Details Here: http://goo.gl/dCdw6h  Start Easy video: http://goo.gl/QP5rSx

DLM/deep litter method: http://goo.gl/YHg2p0 My old CO coop(s): http://goo.gl/v9qdFa  URL shortener:  https://goo.gl/

I owned: BOs/BAs/New Hampshires/Delawares/White Wyandottes when in CO.

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post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response. I feel like it almost has to be mareks. Especially since this one bird showed up with this symptom randomly. It seems more unlikely that it is from an injury. I will try to post some photos that I took this afternoon. Yes I agree that it is a hatchery issue and I had already planned and ordered a few more birds from another hatchery with a mareks vaccination. I talked to the place I ordered them tonight to double check that and I was surprised to here most people who order from them do not vaccinate. 

 

I still have my most recent bird who became ill in a cooler but it has been over a week. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with her. Is it too long to send her in for a necropsy? I do believe necropsy will be the best way for me to figure this out. 

 

I feel bad bring new birds in. I already have them ordered though but I am sure if I really need to I can cancel it. 

 

Which leads me to my next question, If I get rid of all the birds that possibly have been exposed to mareks and then clean the coop really well, will this even lower the risk of the new birds getting it? I have 4 young birds who I really want to keep ( one is the one with the newly grey eye) but I would get rid of them all if it really would lower the risk of the new flock getting it. I do understand though that it lives in the coop and soil and anywhere the chicken has been for a long time. Just trying to figure out the best next route.

 

Thanks!

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Almost a year old Dominique with a newly ( as of today eye looking like this) It seems irritated because she has it closed a lot.

Here is what it looks like when it is open. Hard to see any pupil at all. Does act like she cannot really see out of it. 

Older Red Sex link who I got as an adult and came with her eye looking like this. 

another view of the same eye

post #5 of 9
Some of the eyes look like ones I have seen pictures of that have had ocular Mareks. Ocular Mareks is justg one of 4 types of Mareks, and symptoms can vary in all chickens. When there has been an outbreak of Mareks, the whole area should be considered infectious since it is spread in the feathers, dander, and dust. Many references say that this an linger for as much as 7 years in the environment.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eggcessive View Post

Some of the eyes look like ones I have seen pictures of that have had ocular Mareks. Ocular Mareks is justg one of 4 types of Mareks, and symptoms can vary in all chickens. When there has been an outbreak of Mareks, the whole area should be considered infectious since it is spread in the feathers, dander, and dust. Many references say that this an linger for as much as 7 years in the environment.

Do you have any suggestions for me as what to do further? Should I cull this whole flock? Would it be ok to get more chickens who were vaccinated and hope they do not get it as well or is my chicken keeping ruined now? I realize it is spread through dander but would it help to clean and disinfect the coop as much as possible?

post #7 of 9

There's no real need to cull. Once you've got it, you've got it basically forever. Like the person above said... it's in the soil, it's in the environment. There's no way to get rid of it. If the bird survives, then it will not catch it again, it's already had it. If it dies, then it won't be passing on weak genes. You can order new birds, but make sure they HAVE been vaccinated so that when they arrive they will NOT catch the mareks that you already have present. As for the ocular issue, if it's only affecting one eye (most common/normal), then the bird should still be able to see to care for itself. If it's both eyes, then I would most likely cull as that bird will have a hard time trying to survive.

 

Good luck moving forward.

I used FF: http://goo.gl/IT5HSh Details Here: http://goo.gl/dCdw6h  Start Easy video: http://goo.gl/QP5rSx

DLM/deep litter method: http://goo.gl/YHg2p0 My old CO coop(s): http://goo.gl/v9qdFa  URL shortener:  https://goo.gl/

I owned: BOs/BAs/New Hampshires/Delawares/White Wyandottes when in CO.

Reply

I used FF: http://goo.gl/IT5HSh Details Here: http://goo.gl/dCdw6h  Start Easy video: http://goo.gl/QP5rSx

DLM/deep litter method: http://goo.gl/YHg2p0 My old CO coop(s): http://goo.gl/v9qdFa  URL shortener:  https://goo.gl/

I owned: BOs/BAs/New Hampshires/Delawares/White Wyandottes when in CO.

Reply
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

Well at the moment I believe that this is what it is but hopefully I will be able to get a for sure answer with a necropsy at some point. 

 

Does anybody have suggestions on what to do so it does not transfer to other peoples birds who may come to my house or I go to theres? I have friend with chickens who come over often and my birds free range so there could be possible mareks in many places in the soil. 

post #9 of 9

Your surviving chickens will be carriers. Any new chicks that get vaccinated must be kept away from the environment for at least 2 weeks to fully develop immunity, and they will also be carriers, but should not get the disease. I would not visit or have others visit without using good biosecurity measures if at all. It can be spread on shoes,  clothes, even hair, and equipment.

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