Blood Test for Marek's

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Mama Helen, Aug 2, 2016.

  1. Mama Helen

    Mama Helen Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 25, 2016
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    Does anyone know how long it takes to get results from a blood test for Marek's? I took my Olive, a black sex-link, to the vet last Monday, July 25. As of today, eight days later, the vet still hasn't received the results. I'm fairly certain that it is Marek's. She has the classical splayed legs. We had a silver Sebright that came down with symptoms after her, and the Sebright passed away three days ago. The Sebright had one splayed leg and had difficulty breathing. There's just a part of me that holds on to hope that it is something else that is treatable. I thought results would take maybe 2 or 3 days at most.
     
  2. lovemy6hens

    lovemy6hens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hopefully you received the results by now. What were the results?
     
  3. Begoniasgirls

    Begoniasgirls Just Hatched

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    Aug 8, 2016
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    Mama Helen. I know this post is old, but I have a hen displaying your exact symptoms. Did you find out anything from your blood test? My little hen, Buttercup, is not interested in eating anything. It has now been a week and a half with just fluids I'm giving her. And her legs are splayed. I just took my rooster,who died, in for a necropsy and his results were "impaction of cecum" but I am still waiting for more results. I took him to UCDavis SAN Bernardino lab and his cost was $20.
     
  4. Mama Helen

    Mama Helen Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 25, 2016
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    First, I'm sorry you are going through this. It's difficult to watch your hens suffer and not be able to do much for them. I hope she doesn't have Marek's Disease.

    When I took Olive to the vet, they did draw blood to test for Marek's. I was told that the results typically take 2-3 days. "Results" came over two weeks later. I'm not so sure that this vet `practice knew what they were doing and if the blood that was drawn was truly ever tested for Marek's. After receiving positive "results," the vet who had seen Olive called to tell me that the state veterinarian would be coming to my home and would probably take several of my chickens for testing. We would be in strict quarantine, and I wouldn't be able to move any that we have (which I wouldn't anyway, knowing that they could spread the disease). She also said that I might be asked to euthanize my entire flock. My kids and I were all in panic mode.

    I emailed the main vet at Penn State University, to seek advice She personally called to determine my knowledge of Marek's Disease before going into any details. She assured me that no one at the state level would even consider wasting the time to visit our flock because of Mareks. She named some other diseases that would involve such measures, but not Marek's. She explained that Marek's is so widespread that probably every major poultry facility would be shut down if that were the case. Marek's doesn't cause any health concern to people, and it doesn't wipe out the entire flock when the birds are infected. This vet told me that there is no reliable blood test to determine Marek's, That's what I read again and again online. Marek's causes tumors to grow on nerve endings. These are visible in a necropsy. A necropsy is the only way to truly tell if your chicken has Marek's, according to this vet.

    When I confronted the vet, where I had initially taken Olive, about the test, she claimed it was a relatively new test. I'm not sure I believe that because she couldn't show me the report or any evidence when I inquired while we were there, once again, just a few weeks later to get our Razzle's leg splinted (our silkie who broke her femur.) I personally believe that the vet, not knowing much about Mareks including that there isn't a valid test, drew the blood and even possibly sent it to the lab only to find out there isn't a test, When she discovered there isn't a reliable test, she didn't want to refund the $95 charged and admit a mistake. Penn State is one of the two main PA diagnostic labs through the PA Dept. of Agriculture. I would hope that they would have the most up to date info on any new blood tests.

    All was fine with our flock until one day when our Olive started to limp. We thought she injured her leg and put her in isolation to recover. Two days later her one leg was straight in front of her. We took her to the vet because I suspected Marek's after doing some quick research about the paralysis. I told the vet that I suspected Marek's, and that's when they told me that they'd do a blood test. I hadn't done enough research at that point to know that a blood test isn't reliable.

    I wouldn't agree to euthanize Olive, for a necropsy, which is what they wanted me to do. Instead, we took her home, made her as comfortable as possible, and I started reading everything I could about Marek's. The next day, her other leg was straight behind her, like she was doing a split. I had read in chicken forums where several others had treated their Marek's-infected chickens with colloidal silver and St. John's Wort. We gave it a try. She was alert, perky, and talkative the entire time we treated her. Three weeks later, Olive was able to pull her one leg under her. A few days later, the other returned to normal position. Then a few days after that, she was able to walk again. I just wasn't sure what to do with her now. She wanted to be out of her cage to roam. I called the vet where I initially took Olive to be seen, but they told me she needed to remain in isolation for the remainder of her life. After many days during the course of her illness of researching and reading article after article online, sometimes with contradictory info, I was confused on a few points and wasn't sure isolation was necessary. Finally, I emailed the vet at Penn State again to ask for her opinion and advice as to whether or not Olive could be returned with the other hens. To my surprise, she called and talked with me for about 45 minutes. That's when she explained that all of my chickens were infected anyway, so there was no reason to keep Olive from the flock at this point. Olive had been most infectious for some time before she showed any symptoms. The disease is spread on the dander on the feathers, so all in the coop had been exposed. We discussed vaccinations, also, since some sources recommended vaccinating the remainder of the flock; others said it was too late. This vet recommends that chicks should be vaccinated while still in the egg or within the first 24 hours only. We discussed Olive's recovery, and she shared that sometimes the "remission" can last just a few days, sometimes a few months, and in extremely rare cases, the chicken may live a normal lifespan. Our Olive made it about a month before she started limping again, even though we continued to give her the supplements. This time, she didn't recover and only lived a few days once the paralysis returned.

    Since July, we lost a Sebright named Flitter, a Mottled Java named Chica, and our Olive to Marek's. We are certain we have Marek's disease in our flock because we sent out one of the three for a necropsy, and it came back positive.

    Fortunately, all of our other chickens seem healthy at the present time. The only thing that worries me is that it can take up to 26 weeks before an infected chicken shows symptoms. We have 62 chickens, almost all are different breeds, and they all have names. We are very attached to every one of them. By the way, one of our hens is named Buttercup as well as our one--year old golden retriever. Wishing you well!
     
    VikingEggs and lovemy6hens like this.
  5. VikingEggs

    VikingEggs Just Hatched

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    May 20, 2017
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    Thank you for taking the time to write this detailed description of what you have been through with Mereks. This is excellent information. Your efforts and Olive's and the other feather babies lives have served other chickens and chicken keepers. I appeciate you sharing this with and for the extended chicken family. It has helped me tremendously! We too are so attached to our girls.
     
    Mama Helen likes this.
  6. Mama Helen

    Mama Helen Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 25, 2016
    Pittsburgh, PA
    As an update, we've only lost one more due to the Mareks. However, we lost a few last winter due to infectious LT. Then, two weeks ago we sent a hen to Penn State for a necropsy. She came out of the coop a little sluggishly, pecked a little at some food, took a quick drink and sat down. I came in to do a quick look on the internet to see what I could find on her symptoms. When I went back out 10 minutes later, she had already died. It turned out that she had a twisted small intestine. The vet said it was a freak thing and there was nothing I could've done to prevent it beforehand or save her afterwards.

    I'm glad my information was able to help you, and I hope your chickens survive Marek's. I'm still not sure how we came by it. But recently I began to wonder if it might have been from feeding them store-bought egg shells. I never realized that Marek's was widespread in commercial chickens. It can't be passed to humans, so it doesn't matter if the eggs being sold are contaminated by this.

    Our one hen, Bark, surprised us with some chicks. She disappeared for about a week and I thought something had gotten her. Turns out she was sitting on a nest of eggs. We gained 10 little chicks on the 4th of July. I'm concerned what their survival rate will be. I hope they have some resistance to Marek's passed on from their mother. I've heard conflicting thought on this. We are just playing the wait and see game.

    I've had chickens for almost 30 years. We always kept a small flock of 6-12 chickens until the last three years. I thought I knew a lot about raising chickens, but I'm finding out there is so much more to experience, both good and bad.
     

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