First a cold then Marek's?


7 Years
Apr 17, 2012
Hi, I have had a small backyard flock of chickens for a few years and have not had any problems with illnesses. I started to get a demand for eggs and thought I would go from 6 laying hens to 10. I purchased 4 chicks that were beginning to just get their first feathers in this August. The person I purchased them from actually purchased his chicks from the same local hatchery I had used. I got my original girls vaccinated for Marek's.

The 4 new girls ( the seller was fairly confident) were moved into transitional home in my garage. They have all feathered out and but are not large enough to hang with the big girls in the backyard (or more specifically, share a coop).
During the week of Hurricane Sandy one of my garage girls came down with something. She was sneezing and all fluffed up. She did not appear to have any motor problems when I encouraged her to walk for me. I brought her in to the house and set her up in an unused shower. She was put on a broad spectrum antibiotic (for birds) and after a few days looked perky and was clucking and scratching around. She did not looked stressed or fluffed up. In the meantime I had put the other 3 left in the garage the same antibiotic just in case...
On the morning of the 5th day I put the recovered chicken back in the garage with her friends. Everyone seemed happy and their was no tussles.

I came home from work and the recovered chicken was again sitting and all fluffed up. I picked her up and brought her inside again. She died within 10 minutes.

Fast forward one week and I notice that one of the 3 remaining girls is walking funny. She looks drunk, her left leg is not working right, it's as if she is paralyzed. The other 2 look fine..

What do I do? I do not want my original flock to catch what ever this is... I don't know if the remaining 2 have been exposed and are immune or are carriers for life... I don't know if I should cull the last 2. I did, just today, put the lame chicken down.

I also wormed the birds just in case... but not until after this illness showed up.

Oh, I also have a few duck and 4 ducklings... everyone of them is looking healthy. They are not kept with the chickens.

Any suggestions of what I should do? Any idea of what this was/is? Can anyone point me to where I could have the lame bird examined (for free)?

Thanks in advance!
I think you might have 2 different illnesses going on. The one with the weak left leg and walking funny could have marek's disease - google that and read about it. There are many threads on it. It's a common disease of chickens, affects the nervous system, and cause a wide variety of neurological symptoms. Some birds die quickly, others recover temporarily to varying degrees.

The one with the sneezing could have something entirely different, as Marek's does not typically cause that.

I would definitely NOT mix these birds with your old flock, even though they are vaccinated, because a small but significant percentage of vax'd birds can get the disease.

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