Chicken with leg paralysis - could it be something other than Marek's?

Cara_loves_chooks

In the Brooder
Oct 6, 2019
7
7
11
I have a 3 year old pekin bantam (Bonnie) who recently started hobbling a bit and has slowly (over 2-3 weeks) got worse to the point where she can't stand at all. She otherwise seems very healthy and is eating and drinking as normal. One foot is cool (not completely cold) the other is warm and she can still grip with both feet, only the cool one is much weaker than the other.

Could this be something other than mareks? I have a flock of mixed breeds (50 birds) and everyone else seems fluffy and healthy.

Has anyone else had experience with paralysis that turned out not to be mareks?
I have her isolated and have been giving her lots of good food.
Thanks so much.
 

Eggcessive

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Have you added any new birds to your flock in recent months? Usually Mareks affects young pullets, unless they are exposed to a carrier. Can you post any pictures of Bonnie how she sits or lies? Could she have injured her leg? It is hard to know if she has Mareks, an injury, or if she might have something internally pressing on her leg nerve. You can try her in a chicken sling to help get her up and in front of food and water. There is a pcr blood test available to test for Mareks if that is something you might want to do by contacting this lab:
http://www.vetdna.com/application/forms/aviansubmittalform.pdf

Some ideas for chicken slings or chairs:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/versions-of-chick-chairs-please.1166308/
 

chickengr

Free Ranging
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Dec 29, 2014
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I have a 3 year old pekin bantam (Bonnie) who recently started hobbling a bit and has slowly (over 2-3 weeks) got worse to the point where she can't stand at all. She otherwise seems very healthy and is eating and drinking as normal. One foot is cool (not completely cold) the other is warm and she can still grip with both feet, only the cool one is much weaker than the other.

Could this be something other than mareks? I have a flock of mixed breeds (50 birds) and everyone else seems fluffy and healthy.

Has anyone else had experience with paralysis that turned out not to be mareks?
I have her isolated and have been giving her lots of good food.
Thanks so much.


I had similar problem. not sure if it was due to hot weather or worms, but all of my chickens got better. it happened 2-3 years ago.
 

Sonya9

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Feb 7, 2014
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If it is Mareks then it was likely triggered by some type of stress. Has she been stressed or picked on?

Some of us are using antiherpes medications with success for Mareks so it isn't a hopeless situation, but catching it early is important. Also it seems a lot of Mareks birds develop an odd "frantic" style of eating which seems to be another common sign.
 

Cara_loves_chooks

In the Brooder
Oct 6, 2019
7
7
11
Have you added any new birds to your flock in recent months? Usually Mareks affects young pullets, unless they are exposed to a carrier. Can you post any pictures of Bonnie how she sits or lies? Could she have injured her leg? It is hard to know if she has Mareks, an injury, or if she might have something internally pressing on her leg nerve. You can try her in a chicken sling to help get her up and in front of food and water. There is a pcr blood test available to test for Mareks if that is something you might want to do by contacting this lab:
http://www.vetdna.com/application/forms/aviansubmittalform.pdf

Some ideas for chicken slings or chairs:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/versions-of-chick-chairs-please.1166308/
Thank you so much for your reply, and those helpful links.

I have added some pullets in recent months, but they do all seem healthy and happy. Bonnie is sitting upright but cannot move about at all....I'll add some pictures tomorrow when it's light. She still has a bright red comb but hasn't laid since I've been caring for her inside (a week and a half).

I do have a cockerel who was rough with her (and she's tiny) so it is a possible injury, maybe a nerve or tendon injury? It just doesn't seem to be improving at all though. Also, I'll add the cockerel will be getting euthanised soon (unfortunately) as I cannot have a rough rooster in my flock.

She's one of my favourite hens so it's awful seeing her unable to scratch around the paddock.
 

Cara_loves_chooks

In the Brooder
Oct 6, 2019
7
7
11
If it is Mareks then it was likely triggered by some type of stress. Has she been stressed or picked on?

Some of us are using antiherpes medications with success for Mareks so it isn't a hopeless situation, but catching it early is important. Also it seems a lot of Mareks birds develop an odd "frantic" style of eating which seems to be another common sign.
She has been a bit stressed from a bullying cockerel, he has been isolated from the flock since I realised, but I know she was hiding from him.

What antiherpes medications are you using? I do wonder if I have mareks in my flock as I have had one other bird with leg paralysis a year ago.... I worry about mareks a lot so would love to know how you manage it if it is present in your flock.

Thanks again for your reply, I love this page...it has helped with so many chicken worries, and this is my first proper post.
 

Sonya9

Crowing
6 Years
Feb 7, 2014
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Georgia
She has been a bit stressed from a bullying cockerel, he has been isolated from the flock since I realised, but I know she was hiding from him.

What antiherpes medications are you using? I do wonder if I have mareks in my flock as I have had one other bird with leg paralysis a year ago.... I worry about mareks a lot so would love to know how you manage it if it is present in your flock.

Thanks again for your reply, I love this page...it has helped with so many chicken worries, and this is my first proper post.
Some use acyclovir, I use Valtrex. Both are cheap generic drugs but you need a script from your vet, then fill it at a local pharmacy. Use a small part of one tablet.

I have had Mareks in the flock for nearly 6 years. First year there were a few losses (mainly adolescents that were stressed). Now I am super mindful about not letting birds get stressed, use broodies for chicks, and if a bird is injured/traumatized give them a couple of days of herpes meds to ward off any possible development. I haven't had a bird get sick from it since.

It is an antiviral so the drug works by stopping the virus from infecting more cells and preventing the damage/spread. Much like the controversial HCQ it needs to be started early, waiting until things are super bad makes the drug far less effective.
 
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Cara_loves_chooks

In the Brooder
Oct 6, 2019
7
7
11
Some use acyclovir, I use Valtrex. Both are cheap generic drugs but you need a script from your vet, then fill it at a local pharmacy. Use a small part of one tablet.

I have had Mareks in the flock for nearly 6 years. First year there were a few losses (mainly adolescents that were stressed). Now I am super mindful about not letting birds get stressed, use broodies for chicks, and if a bird is injured/traumatized give them a couple of days of herpes meds to ward off any possible development. I haven't had a bird get sick from it since.

If the Mareks has progressed it may or may not help, the drug works by stopping the virus from infecting more cells and preventing the damage/spread so the earlier it starts the better.
Thank you so much...that is very hopeful, good advice.

Can I ask what country you are in? I'm in Australia. Thanks again, I'm going to look into getting my flock tested. You don't make mareks seem so terrible and scary, but something manageable and I'm up for the challenge....I feel like I've dealt with everything else in my flock!
 

Sonya9

Crowing
6 Years
Feb 7, 2014
1,875
1,091
271
Georgia
Thank you so much...that is very hopeful, good advice.

Can I ask what country you are in? I'm in Australia. Thanks again, I'm going to look into getting my flock tested. You don't make mareks seem so terrible and scary, but something manageable and I'm up for the challenge....I feel like I've dealt with everything else in my flock!
I'm in the U.S. Not sure what tests are used for live birds these days but here is one thread on it.

But if I were you I would find out what tests are available before you visit a vet (or maybe just send a sample off yourself). Maybe there are newer/better tests now.

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/mareks-testing-in-living-birds.1206105/
 

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