Leg paralysis - too young for Marek's?


10 Years
Jun 17, 2009
Santa Ynez, CA
I have a 9 week old silkie who was recently (1 week ago) moved outside with her 6 "sisters", all the same age. Three nights ago she was having trouble walking, and needed to be helped up to roost on a shelf with the others. The next morning she wasn't moving, leaning up against the coop wall, so we brought her inside. She can't seem to hold herself upright, and although she can move her legs, they don't support her.

I read about Marek's disease, and even though she seems to have the symptoms, everything I'm reading seems to indicate that she is too young to have it. It also came on suddenly, and I'm reading that Marek's is a slow onset. She wasn't vaccinated (the hatchery didn't offer the vaccinations for silkies, just the "regular" chicks).

Yesterday she was eating, today hardly at all. Except for loosing her appetite, she hasn't gotten worse or better since we brought her in.

Treatment so far: I'm giving her water with an eyedropper and she's drinking when I squeeze the water into her bill. I'm giving her vitamins and electrolytes in her water and food. Yesterday I gave some epsom salts in case it was botulism or some other toxin. I've stopped that now. To coax her to eat I'm giving her boiled egg yokes and yoghurt mixed with her mash. She picks at it a little. She poops about once a day, it looks normal (except for after the Epsom salts, then it was black and watery).

I plan on treating this myself, not taking her to the vet. I'm hoping to keep her alive so she can heal herself. I also just read about using hypericum homeopathic pills, so I plan to try that as it doesn't seem to be harmful and may stabilize her.

Here are my questions:
Is it possibly Marek's?
What should I be feeding her, and can I feed her some kind of liquid diet with the eyedropper?
Is there anything I should be doing to keep the "sisters" out in the yard healthy? (They are fine so far.)
If it's not Marek's, did I cause a vitamin deficiency by switching from "starter" mash to "grow" mash too early? I switched them at 8 weeks, one week ago.

Thanks for any help and insight. I've already learned a lot from reading the other threads, but it's also overwhelming.

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