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How can you tell if it's Maraks?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by bethanyrae, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. bethanyrae

    bethanyrae Songster

    Apr 5, 2009
    I lost an ameraucana hen (TSC store purchase) a month ago just after she started laying (23 wks). Symptoms were a leg starting to go limp, then problems inhaling. She got weaker and weaker. We put her down after three days before she suffocated herself.

    Now I have a 12 wk old ameraucana hen (someone else's hatching egg under my hen) with the same leg issue starting up.

    I just today read about Maraks disease, which actually relates the leg to the breathing issue!

    But how and when can you know for sure?

    I'm reading about how Marak's virus is everywhere and can't be avoided.

    I've read so many things this evening....from where I'm going to lose most of my flock, to where the symptoms might even go away with complete recovery.

    I don't want to put her down if she's going to get better.

    Feeling confused and overwhelmed. I'm so new at this that sick hens is a new thing for me.

  2. CDennis

    CDennis Songster

    Apr 1, 2009
    I am sorry you are overwhelmed, I know the feeling I currently have a rooster and I am trying to determine what wrong. He is unable to walk [​IMG] So I have been doing a lot of research and this is what I have heard/am trying...
    MoodyChicken posted this on another post, I don't know how to just direct you to the link so I will post what she wrote here, maybe it will help. Also I have heard that if its not Marek's, a good starting place is Enfamils Polyvisol w/ out Iron baby liquid vitamins (you can get at any grocery store) also vitamin B crushed up (for a large bird) and vitamin A. I wish you the best of luck! -Cortney

    This isn't an emergency, just a helpful tidbit of information to help. Despite what you may have heard, there IS a cure for Marek's Disease. It is a homeopathic remedy called "Hypericum." Hypericum is a small creeping herb that, when used hollistically, numbs nerves and dulls pain. When given to a bird suffering from the symptoms of Marek's Disease, it will cure the bird by working on the theory that "like cures like," in other words, by giving the bird the symptoms it will take the symptoms away. I've used this herb with great success to fully cure birds of Marek's Disease. You can fnd Hypericum at health food stores, $8 for 100 tablets. Hypericum must be diluted before it can be used:

    - 1 tablespoon of DISTILLED water per tablet Hypericum (must be distilled water, tap water is ionized and will deactivate the Hypericum)
    - MUST be mixed in a GLASS or PLASTIC bowl (metal with react with the water and herb)
    - drip 5-10 drops (bantam) or 10-15 drops (large fowl) on the afflicted bird's tongue. Be sure the bird rubs its beak together because the Hypericum MUST touch the sinuses (located on the roof of the mouth) in order to work
    - treat every 12 hours (morning and night) with a fresh batch
    - recovery may be as quick as 1 day or as slow as several months

    The treatment works best if you begin treating early. If you delay treatment, the Hypericum may not work or it may be a very slow recovery. IF YOU OVERDOSE YOUR BIRDS ON HYPERICUM, don't worry. The bird will exhibit extreme symptoms, and make a drastic improvment within a 24 hours. Hypericum is also helpful for pain. Only treat birds that are showing symptoms.


    Check your flock history. Marek's Disease affects birds as early as 6 months of age. Symtoms occur most commonly between 6-8 months of age; however, any age bird can become sick, it just becomes less common with age. The incubation period is 2 weeks.

    SYMPTOMS INCLUDE: sudden death (fairly common), depression (common), gradual weight loss (fairly common), neck paralysis (not common), paleness (in conjunction with other symtoms), wing paralysis (common), leg paralysis (most common), star-gazing (fairly common), extreme sudden emaciation (rare), mishapen pupil (not common), gray iris (not common), crazy behavior (rare), unresponsive (common), internal tumor growth (not common), tumors on feather follicles (not common), fearful (not common)

    Hope this helps someone!!! big_smile

    Last edited by MoodyChicken (02/19/2009 10:21 pm)
    Something smells fowl... Moody's Bantams
    Modern and Old English Game Bantams
  3. minge

    minge Hatching

    Sep 22, 2009
    We have a chicken that we think has Marek's too. For over two weeks she has had paralysis and overall weakness. Hasn't eaten much... our vet gave us some antibiotics which don't do anything for viruses, but we did it anyway, and we have feed and watered her close by everyday... we also tried MMS in a small piece of bread everyday... she is now standing on her own, walking a little and we even found her back in the hen house tonight! she got there on her own. So I'd say she is over 50% better. Stilldo not know if should keep her alive. I guess if she can't ge to the feed on her own in a few days, we night put her down. [​IMG] We love her! hope she gets better and yours too.
  4. RuffledFeathers

    RuffledFeathers In the Brooder

    Jan 30, 2009
    Issaquah, WA
    If this bird that is sick passes away- get a necropsy done!!!! Then you will have confirmation. Your local vet can send the bird away to a state vet, if necessary, or the state vet may be more accessible to you. Make a few calls or research online so you are ready.
    Marek's, in my experience, will not wipe out your flock. You may lose a bird now and then. They tend to show symptoms when they are coming into the lay cycle, which is a big transition period and probably stressful. I have lost 3 birds in 2 years (out of 22). I know they all have exposure, but I do my best to keep them healthy and stress-free. My options at this point are simple- I can either live with it, or start buying vaccinated chicks (dont forget to keep them quarantined until full immunity is reached!).
    A bird with paralysis can recover sometimes with good nursing care. Marek's is interesting because the birds showing paralysis tend to keep their spirits up and eat well if you can help feed them. My birds have been getting the internal tumor version, and by the time they show symptoms (depression, lethargy), they only last about a week or two at the most. I feel sad when they get sick, of course, but they live the most spoiled lives (as far as the lives of chickens go), and that makes me feel better.

    Good luck- and I hope you can find out exactly what is going on with your girls so that you may be able to help them through it.
  5. bethanyrae

    bethanyrae Songster

    Apr 5, 2009
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiences with me.

    I have her sitting here behind me in a crate. She doesn't show any breathing issues, thankfully.

    I'm administering antibiotics to the whole flock, to try to cover the bases. This morning I didn't discover any more with evident symptoms.

    They're due for their 2nd worming next week. She'll probably get hers right away.

    Minge, what is MMS?

    thanks, bethanyrae
  6. Chickenmaven

    Chickenmaven Songster

    Feb 6, 2009
    Oooh, I would not do worming and antibiotics at the same time, especially if you are not seeing BOTH worms and a bacterial infection. My feeling is that this is too, too, too much.

    (just an opinion...)
  7. pips&peeps

    pips&peeps There is no "I" in Ameraucana

    Jan 18, 2008
    Newman Lake, WA
    To my knowlege there is no scientific evidence that Hypericum cures mareks disease. It may help the symptoms which could lead to a recovery, but the bird will still have the virus and it will spread to all corners of your property through the feather dander.

    I would get the bird tested at a lab and if it is a positive diagnosis vaccinate all your birds at once, although this is often futile because they would most likely already be infected. Continue to vaccinate all future birds coming to your property.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2009

  8. slightlyscrambled

    slightlyscrambled Songster

    Mar 30, 2009
    I had one hen that was setting on eggs and developed Mareks I continued to massage therapy her legs and kept her close to food and water. Her eggs hatched and the chicks did fine. I also put poly-visol in her water. she recovered for about 5 months but then developed tumers in her belly and we did have to put her down. I have not seen anymore with Mareks with in the flock though.
    We did have necropsy done and was confirmed mareks
  9. CreleChick

    CreleChick In the Brooder

    Feb 6, 2009
    Mesa, Arizona
    Marek's can travel fast and airborne and carries in the feather dander. Most often the wing suddenly drops out of nowhere then fixes itself instantly. The eyes turn grey and they walk a little drunk. Then the legs usually get paralyzed (Marek's is also called range paralysis) and because the bird can no longer walk it usually starves or dehydrates or gets trampled by others.

    Marek's in young ones can be a big threat as advised not to put young ones outside or near older birds until they are 4-6 months old although, sometimes ones raised outside already seem to become immune. There is a Marek's vaccine you can give to chicks that is for 1-3 days old I believe. I have had Marek's in my flock and chicks flop over and die. Some that lived and never got the disease are immune carriers now and if anyone new in the flock comes in with it, my birds aren't sick. I once had a chick I raised start coming down with it after her sister died from it. Her eyes started weirding out, the rest of my chickens started acting weird-killed that pullet and the whole problem went away. Sometimes the best option if they do not get better is culling of the bird.

    Marek's is one of those things that just about right away you can tell if that's what they have or not.

    Hope yours gets better!
  10. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

    Aug 25, 2008
    Just as an aside- sometime a bit of food can get lost in a crevice, get wet and mold. It can cause the same symptoms as Marek's. I lost a roo to it earlier this year. Check your coop carefully.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2009

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