Could this be Mareks?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by rebrascora, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK

    I had a young pullet (20 weeks) go lame a couple of weeks ago. I already have 2 lame which I believed were injuries as a result of roosting too high. Anyway, I couldn't feel anything obvious, so I left her to it for a few days and she was not improving and didn't look right. I brought her into the brooder with one of the other lame pullets but whereas the other one hops about, this one started to deteriorate further, she couldn't lie down without rolling onto her side and stretching her leg out. I looked after her for a week but she was starting to do large really stinky poos worse than broody poop and even in the support of a nest she did not look comfortable and was clearly very ill and getting worse.
    I took the very difficult decision to euthenaze her on Monday. Having never deliberately killed an animal before, it was very emotional for me, but I researched it thoroughly and used the broom shank method.
    Yesterday I did a post mortem on her. Having initially plucked her I noticed a large swelling in her abdomen and had the horrible thought that she might have been egg bound. However, when I cut into her, I found it was a subcutaneous tumour the size of a duck egg extending from the bottom edge of her right breast over her abdomen. It was outside of the abdominal cavity attached to her flesh and not in direct contact with any organs. I also found another tumour the size of a marble attached to the muscle on her leg.

    Her liver, kidneys, heart and lungs all appeared normal and healthy although her gall bladder was perhaps more extensive(kind of elongated) than I would have expected(I'm no expert) and the interior of her gizzard was a very bright yellow. I would guess her digestive system was suffering some problems from the pressure such a large tumour was putting on it.

    I am relieved that she was not egg bound as I would have felt guilty about not recognising it and helping her, but now rather worried that it may be Mareks, especially as I have others that are lame..... One has been badly lame for 2 months but she eats and drinks and is bright eyed and hops about and I can't bring myself to put her down as she doesn't look unwell like this one did. The other lame one has been like that for about a month. She is still out with the flock and although her lameness looks similar, they drop down onto their hock on that leg to take weight, it is not so severe. Both of them have not really deteriorated since they went lame, unlike the one I put down on Monday.

    Obviously, it is a great concern if it is Mareks. I'm in the UK. Does one need to get them tested to confirm it.... how does one go about getting them tested? The affected pullets are all ones my broodies hatched and raised and are not vaccinated.

    Also I have 6 cockerels from the same hatch as the pullet I put down, which I need to process for meat in the very near future (they are harassing some of the hens and starting to cause a nuisance with my neighbours. If it is Marek's in the flock, are they still fit for my own human or my cats' consumption even if they are not showing any symptoms? I hate to waste anything. Do I need to get them tested or do I go ahead and process them and just discard any with obvious tumours?

    I'm aware that there are several threads on Mareks and have read up a bit on them but so far I haven't found answers to my particular concerns.

    I am not comfortable with the thought of culling my flock (currently 48 of them, the majority juvenile) and will probably just keep the flock closed if it is Mareks and deal with each case as it arises, but having a definite diagnosis is obviously an important first step.

    Any comments or suggestions very much appreciated.


  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Blood samples can be performed by your vet to send away for testing for Mareks at special centers. You can also get a chicken necropsied, but in the UK, you would probably have to find out where to get that done. I would contact your vet or the head of agriculture to find out. There is a link below with contact info on Newcastle University where you may get an answer. Here are a couple of links to read about testing:
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014

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