Help! Does my chicken have Marek's Disease?


11 Years
Oct 10, 2008
Northern CA
Today I found one of my 3 month old chickens on the ground, unable to walk. She feels thinner than the other chickens and falls over backwards when you put her down. When we hold her, she sticks her feet straight out and curls her toes.

Do you think it could be Marek's Disease?
Idk but i would seperate her and give her food and water. Maybe the others arent letting her eat and drink enough. I had a small hen that happened to but after she started getting a chance to eat and drink she fattened up quick. She wasnt falli g over or curling her toes. She was just listless and when i checked on her i felt how boney she was so i started feeding her seperate.
Thanks for the quick response! I am hoping that's all that it is, but I don't know. None of the other chickens have these symptoms.

Also, if it is Marek's, they were not vaccinated as chicks. And would it effect the turkey, ducks, and geese too? Thanks1

I am so sorry to hear what you are going through. I am not an expert by any means, but I do have a friend who lost 3 chickens to Marek's earlier this year and late last year. The symptoms you describe, I am sorry to say, sound exactly like what happened to my friend's chickens.

BTW, even hatchery chicks vaccinated against Marek's can still possibly/potentially get it. It is something that they sometimes just get, and you cannot beat yourself up for it. It could also be a malnourishment issue, as another poster said, as sometimes older chicks and larger chicks (even of the same age) can bully a younger/smaller chick away from the food and water.

I hope she gets better soon.
Do check carefully for any moldy feed, even a tiny bit in a crevice, or possibly around a feeder or waterer. It can cause the leg paralysis, too.
Thank you so much! If it is Marek's, I don't even know where they would have caught it from. The ducks and geese are all a year old, from Metzer Farms. They eat Layena. The older chickens are between 1 and 8 years of age, all from feed stores or hatched from my own birds. They eat Layena. The older chicks and turkey are 3 months old and from Belt hatchery. The younger chicks are 2 months old, from 2 different local feed stores. They all eat Flock Raiser, except today and yesterday I ran out and had to give them Layena.
I am buying more Flock raiser tomorrow when I get to town, but I don't think that would have caused paralysis. Also, my two broodies just hatched out a chick each yesterday. They are eating Manna Pro chick starter.

I am helping the sick chicken as much as I can. She is isolated in a cage right now. As long as she is close, she eats and drinks fine. Also, she is a chick from one of the feed stores, she is 2 months old.

*IF* it does turn out to be Marek's (
), how long will it take for the affected chicken to die, and about how many of my flock will come down with it?

Thank you so much, I am hoping for the best.
There really is no way to say it is mareks unless you have her autopsied unfortunately. The symptoms of mareks are very similar to symptoms from several other problems, one of which is a vitamin b deficiency. Try giving her polyvisol drops. You can find it in any pharmacy. If she is drinking you can put it in her water. I had a 3 day old chick come down with those exact same symptoms and it was neurological. 3 days old is way to young for mareks, so I knew it wasn't that. I gave my chick ginger in her water, honey, cold liver oil, and cranberry gel caps squeezed in to her water. She got better for a few days and then died. Don't know if it will help but you can try it.

Mareks can be a catch all phrase people use because of the symptoms, doesn't mean its not that, but you should always quarrantine your chick then try other things. If its mareks its probably going to die anyway, so why not try other options.

Also another thought is if it is mareks, you can give it the mareks vaccine even if it has had it before. There have been studies done that suggest a yearly booster for mareks might prove useful.

If you go to my website and click on the links page. I have posted a link to an article about mareks there. It is interesting reading.

I don't vaccinate my birds, but I do feel it is a choice everyone should make for themselves, and the more info you have the better choice you can make.

Thanks cashdl.
That was a very interesting article, and I fear that she probably does have Marek's.
Her wings hang down too, as the article described, at first I thought she was just doing that so she wouldn't flip over.

The article also suggests using oxide to reduce the number of birds that get sick. What is oxide, and where would I get it?

I also have some vitamins and electrolytes left over from when I had chicks, could I give her that?

Thank you so much, I really hate that my birds and I have to go through this. We have just had problem after problem these past few months. I guess that's just a sad part of owning animals.
Just went to close up the coops, they all look so healthy and happy right now.
I hope they enjoy it while they can.

I was wondering, is there any way to help prevent the number of birds affected? I have heard about fogging with oxine? Should I clean out the coops too? Thanks.

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