It's totally Marek's, except it totally isn't. Help!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by cgoodenough, Jan 27, 2015.

  1. cgoodenough

    cgoodenough Hatching

    Jan 27, 2015
    Hi everyone. New poster here (although I've come here for information often), and I have a sick chicken. I have scoured the forums here and elsewhere, searched high and low on the interweb, and I keep coming to the conclusion it's Marek's, except that makes no sense, except that nothing else (i.e., botulism) makes sense either.

    It started about 2 weeks ago: Julia (that's her in my avatar in happier times) started favoring her right (I think) leg. She was limping and unreliable in landing if she jumped down from perching on top of our backyard chicken tractor. This got worse over several days and she seemed to spend all day sitting, although she could, and still can, stand if she puts her mind to it.

    I brought her into the garage in our chicken hospital tub a week ago. She eats a little, drinks a little, poops a little, and clucks happily enough when I go talk to her, but she rarely stands, and doesn't walk.

    I take her out to the yard in the afternoons if I'm home (I don't want to leave her out there defenseless so I either stay outside or where I can hear if there is any commotion), and she will usually stand up briefly and flap her wings, then sit for the duration. While sitting she will root around in the grass for bugs.

    Her legs seem limp-ish when I pick her up. The main thing that seems amiss is that her claws don't close into their normal, relaxed curl, but stay splayed and straight. Now her wings seem a little droopy to me.

    So that's Marek's, right? Except that she's 6 years old, was vaccinated, and everything doesn't quite add up, does it?

    Maybe it's just old chicken behavior?

    Sorry for the ramble. Any ideas are welcome!

  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Welcome to BYC. Mareks disease can be difficult to diagnose without testing or a necropsy done by your state vet after a chicken dies. So many other things can look like Mareks, especially injuries, vitamin deficiencies, and other illnesses such as lead poisoning or botulism. Mareks vaccines can fail, and if she was exposed later in life it could still be possible to get Mareks from a carrier. I would put her on poultry vitamins, in case of deficiency, and keep her in a small space to force rest of her legs. Here are some good links to read about Mareks:'s_Disease
    1 person likes this.
  3. cgoodenough

    cgoodenough Hatching

    Jan 27, 2015
    Thanks so much for your response! I apologize for the delay in responding - the notification that there was a reply to my post went to spam.

    Based on your advice I bought some poultry vitamins (with electrolytes - chicken Gatorade, who knew?). She's been inside eating only layer feed, grapes, and yogurt for quite a while so botulism shouldn't be a problem. I suppose it could be lead/heavy metal poisoning if she picked something up that is still in there. What to do if that's the case?

    There has been no change one way or the other. She remains in good spirits. She eats a little, drinks a little, poops a little. She *can* stand and take a step or two but she's wobbly, wings droopy and she quickly sits backs down and definitely prefers to stay that way. She's been in the "hospital" for 10 days now :-(

    Thanks again!
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2015

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