Mareks? HELP!


In the Brooder
9 Years
Jan 16, 2011
Hudson, Florida
I have a three month old chick that is not able to really walk or use most of her body. She is sleeping all the time. This happened suddenly and has been going on for about three days. If this is Marek's, how long will the poor thing last? I do not believe in "culing" my birds but I don't want her to suffer. Is it at all possible that it's not Marek's?

Also what I am really concerned about are her brothers and sisters (5 other sebrights and 1 Americana mix). I got them all from the same place and they have been living together since I got them. If she has Marek's, what is the chance that they all have it? How can I know? I'm in Florida and it is warm enough for them to go live outside with my big kids (3 grown sebrights), but I don't want to put them together if there is a risk of my healthy adult chickens getting sick.

I am heart broken over this so please don't be rude and tell me to cull my birds. But I will do what is safe for my grown ones and give the best of care to my new additions.

Thank you!
what are the other symptoms?..

is she eating?

it may not be necessary to cull the others... but if this one is this far gone you may want to end the suffering. My girl hung on for 3 weeks because we didnt know what the issue was... and I was hoping she would get better but then she stopped eating
Thank you. She ate for the first day or so on her own but now she isn't. But I think it's because she can't navigate herself to the food or water, even though it's right in front of her. I'm feeding her mashed and softened chick starter and yogurt with a syringe. She eats it, but after a little while she squacks and doesn't want anymore.

She does not have any other symptoms at all. Just that she is losing mobility. So that is why I'm hesitant to say it's Marek's... Her eyes look good and she talks to me. Just really sleepy now and weak.
Heres some info on Mareks, good luck with your little one hope she gets well.

ounds a lot like Mareks disease

Marek's disease is a Herpes virus infection of chickens, and rarely turkeys in close association with chickens, seen worldwide. From the 1980s and 1990s highly virulent strains have become a problem in North America and Europe.

The disease has various manifestations: a) Neurological - Acute infiltration of the CNS and nerves resulting in 'floppy broiler syndrome' and transient paralysis, as well as more long-standing paralysis of legs or wings and eye lesions; b) Visceral - Tumours in heart, ovary, tests, muscles, lungs; c) Cutaneous - Tumours of feather follicles.

Morbidity is 10-50% and mortality up to 100%. Mortality in an affected flock typically continues at a moderate or high rate for quite a few weeks. In 'late' Marek's the mortality can extend to 40 weeks of age. Affected birds are more susceptible to other diseases, both parasitic and bacterial.

The route of infection is usually respiratory and the disease is highly contagious being spread by infective feather-follicle dander, fomites, etc. Infected birds remain viraemic for life. Vertical transmission is not considered to be important.

The virus survives at ambient temperature for a long time (65 weeks) when cell associated and is resistant to some disinfectants (quaternary ammonium and phenol). It is inactivated rapidly when frozen and thawed.

* Paralysis of legs, wings and neck.
* Loss of weight.
* Grey iris or irregular pupil.
* Vision impairment.
* Skin around feather follicles raised and roughened.

does that sound like any of the things wrong with your bird i hope not but this may help if it does......
I would really like to see others chime in on this one.

To summarize:
You have a 3 month old chicken with impared mobility for 3 days and loss of appetite for a day or so. It is weak/sleepy. No others are showing symptoms.
(Please correct me if I am incorrect.)

I'm not sure if that would be enough to diagnose Merek's. Could this be an injury or other issue with loss of appetite caused by pain/stress?

Edited for clarification
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Thank you so much for posting that! You're exactly right. No others with symptoms and she just seems to be expierencing some paryalsis.

I just gave the sweet thing a bath. She seemed to love it (She pooped in the night and basicaly rolled in it). It relaxed her and after blow drying her, she puffed all her feathers up and is resting calmly under the heat lamp. She does not have the "bumps" at her feather folecules as Marek's describes. Idk. I don't want her to suffer and I was happy that the bath seemed to do her well.

I don't know where to go from here.
to help her not roll in poop and keep her cleaner...

take a large towel and roll it into a donut shape and use duct tape or packing tape to hold the ends together so you have a ring... set her in the ring and this will stop her from rolling and keep her upright..

I used puppy pads on top of my roll when I had my sich hen so that the towel would not get full of poop and keep the crate clean

are you giving her any meds to help ease the symptoms?

Calcium and Vitamin b and a nutritional boost supplement to keep her energy up (not the boost drink for humans) this is the super booster I use
Here is a decent site for diagnosing diseases of chickens. It at least helps you know where to look.

http://www.apa-abayouthpoultryclub.... SYMPTOMS FOR DIAGNOSING POULTRY DISEASES.pdf

There are a couple of other things that could possibly cause paralysis and it is possible this one ate something poisining the others did not, but with age and symptoms, it sure sounds a lot like Marek's. There are different kinds of Marek's that can affect chickens different ways. Not all chickens that get Marek's show symptoms and not all die, though some kinds are more deadly than others. If one of your chickens has Marek's, it is almost certain that all of them do. It is readily spread through the air, mainly by the dander they shed, and can last a long time in the environment.

I'm sorry I can't be more positive, but Marek's in your flock is not good. It is not the end of the world though. People have Marek's in their flocks and manage.

If you want to be sure it is Marek's and not something else, if she dies you can take her in to get her body examined. Call your county extension agency, in the phone book under county government. They can tell you what it costs and the best procedures to use to get her examined. In some states it does not cost much, but I have no idea what it costs in your state. It is usually best to refrigerate the body to preserve it, but the agent should be able to find out what is your best procedure. You can call the extension agency anyway and talk about it. The agent probably won't know a lot of the specific details, but should be able to hook you up with an expert. At least, that is the way it works here.

I'd want to know for sure. If it is Marek's, you can get any new chicks vaccinated and manage it that way. And if it is not Marek's, I'd sure want to know that too so I might have a clue how to manage for that.

Good luck!!!
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Dar-Where can I get this super booster? I've searched online and I cannot find it. Someone posted on here about Hypericum from the health food store that could help with the paryalsis, and I have been giving her that, but there isn't any improvement. I have vitamin b in liquid form but I don't know how much to give her? I'm so discouraged.

Ridgeruner- I'm not sure I want to go that route...

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