Mareks? Help


In the Brooder
9 Years
Aug 10, 2010
This morning we found one of the girls laying on the bottom of the coop floor. She cannot walk. She is a year old EE. She is unable to stand and is on her butt with her legs sticking straight out. Her comb is oddly bright red, super bright red. I have her separated. I dont know if she was vaccinated as a chick. She is from Ideal via a local feed store.

If she has mareks, what can i do for the rest of my flock? I have 7 other hens and 2 week old chicks which are not with the flock yet.

I know it hits ages 3 to 4 months and up or thats when you see it come out. The chickens usually do the splits(1 leg in front and 1 in back) They get skinny. You can seperate but it gets in the ground and air. Their eyes also look different. I cant explain but when I saw birds with it the eyes were if I remember right,kinda oval or slanted. I give the vaccination here cause I dont want to deal with it. They say you have to vaccinate when the are day old but I have vaccinated adult and yooung birds here twice. Dont know if it works or not but I had a vet tell me to. Good luck but you might look at othe dieases because it might not be mereks??
We went ahead and culled her. She was barely breathing, legs sticking out back and front, etc. Now I just hope my flock doesnt all die. Ugh.

Is there any other disease that causes leg paralysis? This was my first flock, our land has never had chickens on it...I thought mareks was rare in those conditions....

So sorry you lost your hen. Mareks is everywhere and if you check this forum for any length of time, not a day goes by without someone posting about birds that have it. You may or may not lose other birds, but you can assume they have all been exposed. It would be a very good idea to get only vaccinated birds in the future.
So sorry you've been hit by Marek's. It is so prevalent that even if chickens have never been in a place, they said to ASSUME the virus is there. Awful, I know. You were right to cull her, recovery is minimal and usually with lasting complications not to mention she'll continue to shed the virus.

So now, here is the game plan with the rest of your birds. The ones that were living with her probably have developed immunity if none of them come down with it. Just keep their stress level low. A drop in their immunity due to stress is how this herpes virus gets it's chance. Clean the coop as best you can, there is a lot written about sterilizing protocols.

With regards to your babies, what has been recommended (our vet agreed with this plan of action), DO NOT put your young chicks with the older group until they've reached 5 or 6 months of age. By that time, if they stay clean, it's believed they will have developed what is referred to as "age developed immunity" and should be ok. What we were advised after rescuing a hen who turned out to have Marek's, was to minimize stress at each stage of development for the chicks meaning: gradually introduce new foods like from Starter to Grower and Grower to Layer, reducing their stress during the growth phases is key because they're bodies are already under a stress from all their changes, both physically, socially and mentally. Also, take care of your chicks first (food, water, litter change) and THEN tend to the adult chickens. You want to minimize exposing the chicks to the virus as much as possible.

If it's of any peace of mind, we were nursing that Marek's bird for 2 weeks in the house before we really knew what we had (so many symptoms could be so many things! She had both legs straight out -- like your bird. Not like the classic "split" they show in the books). At the same time we were raising weeks old chicks in the house as well. Our heating system circulates the air around the house. I'm happy to say, those chicks are now 11 weeks old. BUT, we're having to build them their own coop until they are old enough to join the adult chickens who were exposed to the Mareks hen. It can be a pain to build and maintain two coops, but after this whole thing, we'll keep the extra coop because we're finding we have more roos than we had planned and they'll all be staying. Or you could use it as a quarantine/recovery coop. Can never have too many coops.

Good luck!

Don't worry. Plenty of people have lost a bird to Marek's and the rest are fine.

PS. Vaccination doesn't prevent them from getting the disease or being carriers. It's just prevents them from developing the tumors (which is a big part of the disease). So don't count on vaccinated chicks as being bullet-proof.
thanks everyone for your replies! I guess it was bound to happen eventually. I am going to keep an eye on the rest of flock and hope for the best!
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