Lost 2 hens in about 2 months - Mareks??

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by shandy, Feb 17, 2017.

  1. shandy

    shandy Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 26, 2016
    I am such a rookie, but I'm panicking now because I've lost 2 hens in the last couple of months. I have a small flock (I had 11 but I'm down to 9 now). The chickens are 11 months old. Again, being a rookie, we bought them at a feed store and I could conclude that they were not vaccinated. They are fed layer feed and they also free range all day. We occasionally give them leftover human food. I live in Nebraska and have had cold weather late this winter. For the most part, they still go out and free range. The first hen I lost (about 1-2 months ago) started to be on her own and stayed in the coop while the others went out and free ranged and when I checked on her more closely, I realized her one leg was paralyzed, no apparent injuries. Over the course of a few days, she died. Now, a couple of days ago, another hen started staying in the coop, etc, and I checked her legs and she seemed fine. She even went out and free ranged for a day or so and then I came home yesterday and she was dying. She was almost completely flaccid. I didn't notice any paralysis until she was almost dead. I am freaking out thinking we've got Mareks. I was planning on hatching eggs in the next few weeks, but don't know whether I should consider this now. Any general thoughts would be appreciated, I hope I gave enough pertinent info. Thank you.
     
  2. shandy

    shandy Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 26, 2016
    I also wondered about worms?? I haven't seen anything, but could worms cause fairly sudden death like this?
     
  3. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    The BYC Great Big Giant Marek's article discusses the topic pretty fully with all the possible imitators.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq

    and a follow up about the pros and cons of the vaccination:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/mareks-disease-fact-site

    If the bird is failing and paralyzed in the classic one leg forward, one leg back, it is almost certainly Marek's (a necropsy alone would confirm...but even then it is not always certain).

    However, as you will see in the articles, not all hope is lost as Marek's is almost certainly prevalent in the environment, and the best thing is to keep birds that have natural immunity to it.

    Keeping a diverse flock of breeds, with some vaccinated, some not, is also thought to be a good approach. You might consider purchasing chicks that have been vaccinated as well as hatching some of your own which you may or may not vaccinate as vaccination is usually pretty difficult for the small holder...while vaccines are available, you have to buy in 1000 dose lots and overnight ship on ice to be able to inject on day 1....and vaccination, as you will see in the articles, does not prevent the disease but only the tumors that cause the paralysis...so the bird's still have Marek's, potentially creating an environment for "Super Marek's."

    Good husbandry to keep immune systems strong is also important. Clean food, water, living conditions. Regular pest control. ACV in the water, probiotics, etc.

    Since you are in winter, and they are only 11 months old, worm build up does not leap to the forefront, although possible...but that doesn't produce paralysis.

    The only thing I have personally seen that somewhat mimics systemic (but not neural) Marek's (without paralysis) has been a case of coccidiosis which can lurk quietly in a way that cause slow wasting away until hobbling weakness...an alternative Marek's form...but again your are in winter cold, and coccidiosis usually is in warm, humid weather.

    Read the articles, and take heart. If the rest of the flock is healthy, that is a good sign of their natural resilience.

    LofMc
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  4. shandy

    shandy Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 26, 2016
    Lady of McCamley,
    I know this reply is delayed but I did read your post and it was a WONDERFUL response! It was very informative and actually made me feel MUCH better! Thanks so much for the thoughtful and informative response!
     
  5. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    Sorry for your loss. [​IMG]

    If you have any more... I suggest you refrigerate the remains and get a necropsy done. It's the only way to know for sure what killed the bird. In a lot of states it can be done for low or no cost as a means of the government protecting our food supply. You could contact your local ag department and find out what is available to you. That way you are prepared if it happens again. There are a few threads on here that tell how to prepare the bird and also the contacts for many states. A quick search might turn them up. Here is one...

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/799747/how-to-send-a-bird-for-a-necropsy-pictures

    Good luck! [​IMG]
     
  6. shandy

    shandy Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 26, 2016
    If I lose another, I will definitely do that! Thanks so much!
     
  7. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    'You are very welcome and I glad it helped.

    Hopefully the rest of the flock will be healthy and bright until old age.

    LofMc
     
  8. chrissiemids

    chrissiemids Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 14, 2014
    Hi, I lost a young rooster to Marek's at Christmas. His legs were paralysed me day but only for a few minutes. Then he seemed fine but after about 3weeks he stopped eating and died. I have had a sharp learning curve since having hens. So many diseases. I stocked up with syringes, flubenvet,and coxoid. So far I have drained a hens abdomen of fluid,washed out a vent with salt water. Cleared blocked crop. I have also just lost a young hen to coccidossis as she wasn't vaccinated. 3 years into it now and still learning. Good luck.
     
  9. shandy

    shandy Out Of The Brooder

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    It's nice to hear from others, people who have had similar situations. I didn't expect to take it so "personally" when this happened. I immediately blamed myself and thought I should have known better for getting chicks at a feed store and not even knowing if they were vaccinated, maybe I could keep their coop cleaner, how could I not notice sooner, etc, etc, etc. I've decided (to make myself feel better) that my first attempt at having chickens doesn't need to be perfect, and it's all a learning process. So I'm appreciative of this website so that I can talk to others and learn from each situation!!
    THANKS!!
     
  10. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Chicks at the feed store are hatched in hatcheries. And Mareks (from what I understand) cannot be passed on to the egg. So if the feed store isn't taking birds back after they were sold then they should be safe IMO.

    Most of my chicks came from the feed stores. And those that didn't came from breeders. None have been Mareks vaccinated and I haven't lost a single bird to natural causes YET in 6 years. Well, take that back. I have lost some chicks that were shipped and 2 of my recent hatch didn't make it past a few days. But neither of those were illness related.

    Note, I haven't read that article yet about pros and cons.
     

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