Wish folks could put together all the Marek's information.
1. Marek's Disease is world wide, a scourge.
2. If you have never experienced the disease with your chickens--MANY HAVE NOT, be aware that any new birds can bring it to you, even if they appear "healthy".
3. Vaccination is not with the Marek's virus, it is made with a Turkey herpes virus, that stimulates immunity to Marek's Disease in chickens. They CANNOT get Marek's from the vaccine!
4. Vaccination must be done day of hatch!!!!!!!!!!!!
5. Developing immunity from vaccination takes 2 weeks, so chicks must be protected from exposure for at least that long.
6. Vaccination may not be 100% effective--but it is all that we can do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
7. There are a number of forms of Marek's Disease, by the location of the nerve tissue that is affected: ei. leg muscle, moving to wings, then most body muscles. OR formation of small tumors in nerve tissue--seen only by necropsy. ..others..
8. Infected birds may just "go down", may or may not die in a day or more, if they can eat and drink for a while, and may appear to recover.
9. Undetected infection may be the cause of Sudden Death, without seeing symptoms.
10. Birds with symptoms, may seem to recover, partially or completely. THEY ARE CARRIERS OF THE VIRUS FOR LIFE, and will be source of infection of any age birds you will acquire.
11. THERE IS NO CURE or TREATMENT for RECOVERY FROM MAREK's DISEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you keep a recovered bird, you will always have infection of any other birds you have or acquire, that are not vaccinated (the only hope).
12. The virus is not carried in the EGGS, they may be safely hatched, if chicks are kept separated (and vaccinated at hatch).
13. The Marek's virus is LONG LIVED, said to be carried in the dander (dust) and can be carried on your clothing, shoes, and will be in your pens, runs. for an undetermined time--perhaps years! So the statement: "once you have it, you will always have it without vaccination"--and while that is BEST you can do to protect future birds, it may not be "forever", either!!
14. Chicks will not display symptoms, cockerels may show symptoms such as limping, by 8-9 weeks, usually 9-12 weeks, but may not appear until nearly a year --or if carrying the virus and not showing symptoms--can be at any age! Pullets, most often show first symptoms at point of lay, may lay first egg or two before "going down". Hens, also, may not show symptoms until they "go down" or SUDDEN DEATH--and necropsy will show the nerve tumors. Large tumors are not common, but can occur
Marek's is not painful to your chicken!!!!!!!They do not know why they cannot move about or eat or drink, frustration---but there is no pain!! Treatment you give, is up to you, but cannot cure Marek's, if the bird "recovers" it just gives you a CARRIER.
15. Vaccine is not expensive, chickens ARE. It may not be perfect, but is worth it--(I was vaccinated for Small Pox at age 5--and thanks to ALL who have been vaccinated for the past 80 years since--Small Pox was common and sometimes deadly, when I was 5-- is now extremely rare and I am thankful.)
Marek's IS a scourge, but vaccination is worth it, for what we can do for OUR birds and those we sell, give or acquire in the future.
If you keep an infected with Marek's chicken, you become a "carrier" yourself, your clothing, shoes, etc. ..... love your chickens..and do not infect them!
My first Marek's was a hen sent from a friend, who bred for resistance (possible, but how do you know)?--20 years ago.
Did not know what it was (no leg injury, of course) and she died within a week.
Had few cases of it for a number of years--until got a computer and correspondence and search of websites diagnosed it. Have been vaccinating EVERY chick, for past 15 years, and purchase only vaccinated birds and re vaccinate them next hatch, as stress of older birds, such as shipping, can cause a break in immunity (?). And some breeders re vaccinate their birds at least every 2 years --I don't, but it is always an option, as the vaccine is a freeze dried tablet, and keeps refrigerated, (until mixed with diluent, and then must be used within an hour) the tablet will vaccinate 1500 birds--so I divide the tablet into 4ths, so can do 4 hatches with one tablet.--the vaccine is prepared for hatcheries and huge growers of chickens! GOOD LUCK.......
Edited by JeanR - 12/3/15 at 10:47pm