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Not an Emergency...Marek's in the Flock - Page 292

post #2911 of 3558



not finish readint the last couple days, so this might come to late.  I had a hen who was meowing.  All day especially when she exerted herself.  I heard it because i have a baby monitor on 24/7.  "Meow... "Meow"..."Meow"...   There was no crust or mucous of any kind eyes or mouth. Still don't know if it was the inhale or exhale.  She's a flighty one, that Sweet&Sour.  I tried first Vet Rx-2 applications and she was more comfortable and all righted itself.  This was 2 months ago.  Still laying and healthy as can be.


Edit to Add... I would have gone antibiotics if it didn't resolve.  I treat my children and myself and cat and dog when needed, why not my beloved chicken pets.  Its not a drug lifestyle for them like factory farming.

Edited by alibabba - 4/25/15 at 11:04pm
post #2912 of 3558
Originally Posted by Akrnaf2 View Post

The Marek virus infect only chickens it doesn't affect any other bird species.

The Marek's virus, I believe I have read does affect many avian species, but does not produce symptoms.  However, these species do  produce antibodies.  


This is interesting.


In my highschool biology level....


This is similar to how the smallpox vaccine developed.  Cowpox, milking maids etc.  Plus the idea that turkey litter or running with turkeys can help build immunity.  Sans the milk maid middle man.


I wish I was in a position to really research...

post #2913 of 3558
Originally Posted by JeanR View Post

Not a VET!  However,  long years of experience, isolated farm, long  before computers and internet, then longtime search and research-- lots of misinformation, lots of guesses, and lots of good information, to convince one that while much is known about Marek's, much is still to be discovered.  Experience with RECORDS, has several local Vets sending questions to me (might help, might NOT.)    We have no local hatcheries any more (and before Marek's was a problem) but Feed Stores carry them, and it soon will be question time--(a month or 2 for cockerels--4-5 months, just before first laying for pullets is normal, but of course can vary.)      Even if you can order vaccinated chicks, if they arrive with the non vaccinated--they may be exposed already and cannot have the 2 weeks to develop immunity.


Had chickens for YEARS, with NO MAREK's or anything similar.   It first arrived with lovely birds from friend in Alabama.  Hen went down on one leg shortly after arrival--then wing on same side, then DOWN and died in several more days??????no idea what it was.   Spoke with the breeder, who was sorry--he was breeding for "immunity to Marek's!    Of course it was classical symptom--now, easily spotted!!!!!


Breeding for immunity IS possible with most breeds of poultry.  TAKES YEARS--AND after a long time with birds not showing any symptoms, how do you really know if all your birds are immune??  FEW Vets do the blood work.  ANd some infected birds do recover AND ARE CARRIERS OF THE VIRUS for the rest of their lives--and can carry infection to any birds hatched or acquired later-=-years later.  Marek's is a LONG LIVED VIRUS.  How long?  We do not really know!!  The best philosophy is "ONCE YOU HAVE IT, YOU CAN ALWAYS HAVE IT!!!!!


After not having birds with symtoms, for several years,  sold some really nice birds, shipped,  AND a month or so later, the buyer wrote to say that they were sure that one pullet was going down with MAREK'S .     How could I have been so fortunate to have sold the birds to a family that vaccinated all their birds.


WHile I had read and learned (our local Vets do not really do chickens , but good Vet friend did send a bird that I had purchased, had been vaccinated, quarantined after arrival here, but died 10 days after receiving him, for necropsy.   It was Marek's--so we do know that while vaccination is IMPORTANT, it may not be 100% and stress can break the immunity--same as vaccines for people,    With this experience--NEXT HATCH, I started vaccinating and have for 14 years, every chick within or closest possible, to 24 hours of hatch.   Have learned to schedule hens to hatch for same day , to save vaccine as it does not keep after mixing! That infected pullet that I had sold?   I hatched, vaccinated, raised the same variety bantams and later sent the family, not just one, but TWO pullets as replacement.   Marek's is not carried in the eggs and recovered birds can produce lovely fertile eggs.   Exposure is after hatch!


Since it may take 2 weeks for a vaccinated chick to develop immunity, it is with faith that chicks are started in their own "isolated" pens, and hope that they are in no way exposed to the virus (which can still be anyplace former infected chickens have lived --and their own mothering hen, even a dear old one--"could have some dander with the virus??????) 2 weeks!


It is all we can do--but DO IT.    And now, I will not even purchase a vaccinated bird.   Time to let TIME kill the virus that may still be lurking on my premises.      AND the virus is continually mutating--is the vaccine broad spectrum for present and newest forms?  We must do what we can do--worth the efforts, of course, my bantams are part of the family farm--and deserve no less than my children did!!


You CANNOT give a bird Marek's by vaccinating.  The vaccine is not made from Marek's Disease!!   It is made from aTurkey Herpes Virus, which causes chickens to DEVELOP  an immunity to MAREK's.    May sound strange, but that's the way it is!




And of those who deny Marek's in many ways, I respect your point of view--I live by my long time experiences--and I well know that the book is not closed on Marek's--lots yet to learn.....



The tricky thing is....recovered birds.  Were they truly Marek's?  I have two down, 8 mo pullet and her brother(?) rooster that are probably Marek's.  However symptoms are not classic.  Yes they have ataxia, and weak legs, anorexia.   Not symmetrical and will eat and gain.


1 hen in my flock died quickly 3 months ago (mid winter).  Necropsy (probable Marek's, microscopic lesions, etc)  never lame. Just standing lethargic 2 days, died 3 days later in the house.


The pullet (8 months) is having a super up day.  Taking wobbly steps(she fell and flapped quite a bit yesterday), outside pecking and enjoying herself so much.  


I think it could be a deficiency, so many have symptoms of staggering, ataxia an anorexia or poisoning, heavy metal poisoning*** or fungal from free range. (Feed smells good enough for me to put milk on and eat)  but might be lacking in salt, E, B, Thiamine etc...these might be genetic issues because it's just these 2 out of a remaining flock of 7.


There is a Marek's blood test per the avian vet, if vaccinated or unknown status, can produce a false positive.   So even then, when you know, you may not know.


So frustrating.

post #2914 of 3558
Originally Posted by fairie View Post

I have another thread running on this topic, Young Chicken Losing Mobility.


I kept the young ones separated during the day for the first week. They were in the same house with the flock at night. Then they were all out in the yard together for the next week. 


But when I realized that one was really sick I separated it and now it is in a cage on it's own. Eating and being happy. It doesn't panic when I come near it like in the beginning and doesn't even try to escape like it used to.


I am concerned that I may be unknowingly making all my other chickens sick. Should I just cull all 3 young chickens and be done with it?

I disagree with the cull immediately if you have the time and compassion for it.  It might not be Marek's, but it might be.  Many deficiencies and toxins look very eerily similar.  They may have another problem and you can spend days trying to figure it out, because Vet's don't know and famer Joe doesn't know.  Only you have all the information about feed, environment to figure it out.  


All others have been exposed. (I believe all are exposed and carry)  If it's a pet, and if it's Marek's that's one thing.  If it's deficiency or mold, or botulism or heavy metal toxicity, you have a great shot at "fixing them".  It will still take time I am sure.

post #2915 of 3558
Originally Posted by mamidei View Post

Does this look Marek's related to anyone? I isolated her a few weeks ago for suspected feather picking, hoping to give her a chance to recover. The area has spread and is "swollen". I'm



I have no idea - is this the belly of the chicken?  not sure what I am looking at in the pic.

There is a skin version of mareks where the tumors are on the skin.  I've only seen one photo of that and it looked a little different.  Try googling skin tumors mareks and see if you can get some visuals.


Can  you describe your flock and this chicken's other symptoms?   

Today's Forecast:  Happy, with a chance of amazing
Today's Forecast:  Happy, with a chance of amazing
post #2916 of 3558

With 292 pages, I just do not have time to read every post on this thread, so if the information I share is redundant to others' posts, I apologize. This is my story which includes non-typical symptoms of Marek's Disease


A week ago this past Friday I drove 2 1/2 hours to take three chickens to our state Avian vet. Two males, one female. The males were a 5 month old Silkie/Cochin cross, and a Silkied Serama who was THREE DAYS SHY of his 1 year birthday.. The female was an Easter Egger/Barred Rock cross pullet, 3 days shy of 1 year old as well. The silkie cross died two days prior to the trip (I kept him in the refrigerator, triple wrapped in ziplock bags). The Serama died 30 minutes into the trip. The pullet was still alive when I arrived at the state lab.


Symptoms: Silkie cross boy began with slow movement. He would run as if he was just too darn heavy to run fast. When I fed the flocks, he would slowly walk to the feeder and sit down to eat. A couple days later, he was limping. Checked his feet for corns (I call them corns, because that's what they are, but in the chicken world everyone calls it bumble foot) and his feet were fine. Figured he must have sprained his foot jumping down from the roost, blaming it on "I must be feeding him too much, he's getting too fat"...because, at this stage, he didn't have the protruding breast bone. A week later I finally realized it was something more...he was having trouble walking, and when he'd sit down, he'd lay slightly on his left side, one leg out to the side, one leg under him. So I brought him inside to isolate him from the flock. His treatment included daily vitamins (poly-vi sol without iron, vitamin E, and vitamin B complex), turmeric, molasses, and electrolytes...all of this not every day, of course....just listing the treatments throughout the time he was sick before he died. His food consisted of medicated chick start and scrambled eggs.

He got a little worse every week. Pretty soon both legs were to his right as he lay on his left side. I'd end up having to give him a bath every couple of days because the poo would pile up behind him and stick to his feathers. Breathing became labored. He could move his legs...when I'd pick him up, he'd kick them around...he just couldn't use them. His appetite never fact, it increased and he ate as if his life depended on it...yet his breast bone protruded and he had lost a lot of weight. On the day he died, I had given him an injection of Tylan, thinking because of his breathing problem, he had developed a respiratory infection, and because he didn't look like he was going to live much longer. He died less than 10 minutes after the injection. 

     Total length of illness (once symptoms started to show): 8 weeks.


Symptoms: Silkied Serama boy was our number one favorite chicken. He and his flockmates (2 females, and later 3 chicks) were housed inside for the winter after discovering my boy had gotten frostbite. So inside they came, housed in a three-tiered cage by a window for sunlight. Once we began having warm days, I'd move the seramas outside into a moveable run, then bring them back in at night (I'm building a new coop just for the seramas, so they don't have a night time home right now except in my house).  About a month after the silkie showed signs of illness, one of my serama girls died suddenly. I do my own necropsies (except the recent three) and discovered she died of peritonitis (her abdomen was filled with yolk). She had NO tumors. After she died, my roo stopped crowing and talking. We thought he was depressed...losing one of his two girls...and blamed the lack of "speech" on her death. This was one of the non-typical symptoms. He just stopped making noise. A few days later, he began to walk like he was drunk. That's the only way I can describe it. He'd sway to the left, then to the right as he would take steps...picture a drunk person trying to walk a straight line. That was my boy. Again, a non-typical symptom of the Marek's I had read about. His balance progressively got worse, to the point where he'd take a step and fall over, and sometimes would fall forward and flip onto his back. Found him on his back quite a few times and I had to flip him back over. His comb, at the back (last two points but including the body of the comb at the back) would turn purple, almost black. I'd give him vitamins, the comb would turn red again. This started about two weeks after he stopped crowing. Non-typical symptom. The last symptom he displayed before he died was his comb flopped onto its side. Then it turned pale (this over the course of a week). Non-typical symptom. Not once during the time he was sick did he suffer from leg paralysis. His legs never went out to their sides or forward. His treatment was the same as the silkie cross, only he also had access to eating grass and bugs during the day when I put them outside. His appetite never diminished, although towards the end his breast bone did protrude.

     Total length of illness (once symptoms started to show): 4 weeks


Symptoms: EEx pullet was found by my chocolate lab the day before I made the trip to the lab. The pullet was up under a dog was laying in front of it with her nose shoved in the small space between the ground and the bottom of the building. This space was a place some of my girls laid their eggs, so when I looked under and saw the pullet, I figured that's what she was doing...until I noticed her comb...which was flopped over on it's side. I couldn't reach her, so I grabbed a broom handle and tried pushing her out from the back...and she would flop on her side, and couldn't walk. Finally managed to shimmy her out, and I put her in a dog crate and began treatment with electrolytes and sav a chick. She was very dehydrated, so I am going to say she had been under there more than a day.

     Total length of illness (once symptoms started to show): 3 days



The vet, once I arrived, took both dead birds and the live one (he would euthanize her) and told me he would call me with any preliminary findings. I received that call three hours later.


Preliminary Findings: 

Silkie cockerel: Tumors...intestines and liver. Possible causes: Avian Leukosis, Marek's

Silkied Serama cockerel: Tumors...heart and lungs. Possible causes: Only one. Marek's.

EEx pullet: Peritonitis. 


He said he'd been doing this for over 20 years, and he is 99% sure it's Marek's for the boys. Avian Leukosis doesn't cause tumors in the lungs. He would notify me the following week if the labs confirm his prelim. diagnosis.


He called me day before yesterday, said the labs DO confirm they died of Marek's disease. He said although the pullet died of peritonitis, she also had Marek's.


Although the Silkie cross cockerel had displayed typical symptoms, my beautiful serama boy did not. Nowhere...not even the Merck Vet Manual...list pale comb, floppy comb, purple comb, loss of "voice" (stopped crowing), or lack of coordination as symptoms of Marek's disease. I want to make sure this is shared with as many people as I can share it with...these symptoms CAN BE SYMPTOMS OF MAREK'S DISEASE!!!!!!


I also want to share with you the information the vet shared with me regarding the disease...and I TRUST what he tells me...he's been doing this for DECADES. 


Marek's is everywhere. It's on your clothes, my clothes, at the grocery store, at our kid's school. There is absolutely NO avoiding it. The dander, which spreads the virus, rides on the wind. It is, aside from Avian Leukosis, the most prevalent and common illness that infects backyard flocks. There is absolutely no bio-security measures you can take to prevent your flock from getting infected, except for vaccinating newborn chicks. Even then there is a small chance they can contract the virus. Therefore, there is ABSOLUTELY NO POINT in a Marek's positive flock owner to destroy all of their birds. Those that survive the virus (if they can make it to slightly over a year old), they have become immune and they DO NOT SHED LIVE VIRUS. Can they carry live virus in their feathers from other birds? Yes...but they cannot shed it themselves.



Again, just wanted to share all of this with my fellow chicken owners. Hopefully my story can help someone.

Thanks for reading.

post #2917 of 3558
Originally Posted by LuvnMyChix View Post
 [...] Those that survive the virus (if they can make it to slightly over a year old), they have become immune and they DO NOT SHED LIVE VIRUS. Can they carry live virus in their feathers from other birds? Yes...but they cannot shed it themselves.


Do you have any literature that supports this?

post #2918 of 3558

@ LuvnMyChix


Many thanks for taking the trouble to share that information. It confirms a lot of what I had suspected and it makes me wonder why there are not many more people contributing/subscribing to this thread because Marek's is obviously extremely common. I think it is one of those things that perhaps people don't want to admit and face up to and it's easy to just dispose of the carcass when a chicken dies than use it to figure out why. I haven't had professional necropsies done, but the post mortems that I have done and the "classic" symptoms my birds have displayed leave me in no doubt that I have Marek's in my flock. The purple comb on your bird is not surprising as heart and lung failure due to tumours(visceral Marek's) would certainly cause that symptom but I guess it is not one of the commonest signs. 


My trigger event was 3 young birds going lame within a few days/weeks of each other. The first was easy to chalk up as an injury but by the 3rd, it was way too much of a coincidence and then one did the classic Marek's splits. Amazingly she then fully recovered, one learned to hold her leg up and hop everywhere.... after several weeks of tripping over her own toes and me trying to make a brace to hold her foot flat The third deteriorated quite rapidly until I had to euthenase her and she had huge subcutaneous/intramuscular tumours when I opened her up..... that was the confirmation of Marek's in my mind. Since then I have had a couple more that went lame and recovered and the one that initially did the splits and then recovered, had a second attack a few months later and in January I twice gave her a deadline for culling as she was unable to stand and was tipped over on her side and soiling herself etc like your bird. Each time the deadline was reached, she just looked too bright and healthy to do it and I'm so pleased I didn't because she has made a miraculous recovery and for the past 3 days has been back out with the flock and only has a very slight limp which is improving by the day. She is even getting back up onto the roost (3ft off the ground) and no longer wants to be in the infirmary. I have no doubt that this bird has Marek's and I put her recovery down to 2 things..... having a fellow inmate whilst she was in the infirmary.... and getting her out into the sunshine and grass as soon as it was warm enough. I have also fed turmeric and fermented feed and honey and scrambled eggs and garlic at various stages and soaked mixed corn as a staple part of her diet as I felt it was important to feed her what she wanted rather than her pick at something she wasn't fussed about, and ACV in the water but for me the key has been keeping her happy. She has been laying me an egg every other day since she started getting better.


I too would not recommend culling until quality of life has been lost. This pullet has definitely taught me that.


Out of curiosity can you think of a trigger for your outbreak of Marek's. Mine happened when I had a lot of juvenile cockerels reaching sexual maturity and chasing after, and stressing the hens/pullets. Her second attack in Jan was as she was reaching point of lay. I'm hoping that, now I understand a bit more,  I can try to prevent any further stressors.


Anyway, good luck with the rest of your flock. I hope you are over the worst of it.  

post #2919 of 3558
Originally Posted by Nambroth View Post


Do you have any literature that supports this?

Nope, just the statement from the avian state vet...and like I said in my post, he said they don't shed LIVE virus. Don't know if that means they shed dead virus or whatever, he just said not live virus

post #2920 of 3558
Originally Posted by alibabba View Post



not finish readint the last couple days, so this might come to late.  I had a hen who was meowing.  All day especially when she exerted herself.  I heard it because i have a baby monitor on 24/7.  "Meow... "Meow"..."Meow"...   There was no crust or mucous of any kind eyes or mouth. Still don't know if it was the inhale or exhale.  She's a flighty one, that Sweet&Sour.  I tried first Vet Rx-2 applications and she was more comfortable and all righted itself.  This was 2 months ago.  Still laying and healthy as can be.


Edit to Add... I would have gone antibiotics if it didn't resolve.  I treat my children and myself and cat and dog when needed, why not my beloved chicken pets.  Its not a drug lifestyle for them like factory farming.

Thanks for the reply!  I treated her with Tylan + oxytetracycline, followed up with Safegard in case she had gape worm or something.  Nothing worked.  It is so cold out at night (32 this morning) but she insists on sleeping in the outdoor run with her sister.  It has been 3 weeks, and the good news is she is coughing less.  I'm just going to have to let it run its course.  If she seems to be suffering I will have to cull, but so far she doesn't seem to be bothered too much my it.

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