Marek's in older chicken?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Jessie in Somerset, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. Jessie in Somerset

    Jessie in Somerset New Egg

    Aug 22, 2008
    Hi. I'm new to this forum; I found it in search of an answer to a question I have. Sorry this post is a bit long, but I want to explain the situation fully. Is it possible for a chicken to show symptoms of Marek's if the chicken is over two years old? We have a hen who started in April being unable to jump onto a perch in the coop at night. She showed progressive weakness so she came into the house with us and has been here since then. She went through a period where she couldn't walk at all and seemed to have trouble seeing. We hand fed her, making sure she got as much food and water as she wanted, and kept her area clean. She progressed to being able to stand up and take a wobbly step or two. She then began eating on her own. She would get progressively better, walking steadily, eating well and even enjoying being taken outside for dust baths, and then suddenly she'd relapse. She also seems to have occasional seizures. She's a house pet now - she's not very strong (never was a very hefty girl) and on the rare occasions the other chickens managed to get to her when she was outside the roosters tried to do their thing and the hens started pecking at her. We were beginning to think she'd beaten whatever this is because she was doing so well just a few days ago - following us around the house like a puppy, eating like she couldn't get enough, and she seemed generally happy. Her vision has never quite recovered and there are times when she seems to have fairly good vision, then times when it seems she's seeing only large objects. Anyway, yesterday she had a total relapse; unable to stand at all, lack of appetite, general weakness. Everything I've found on her symptoms points to Marek's, but everything on Marek's says it strikes younger birds. If it is Marek's, will this go on indefinitely, the recovery and relapse? Is it cruel to let her go on? We have a little flock of nine chickens, mostly rescues, and we're attached to all of them but this girl has become such a pet. We really want to do what's best for her. We don't mind nursing her through the relapses but we don't want her suffering. I'd appreciate any thoughts on this. Thank you.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2008
  2. hinkjc

    hinkjc Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Jan 11, 2007
    It could be several different things, all vary in degree of survivability. You are correct in that Marek's typically strikes youngsters, but on occasion can hit an adult. Depending on how long this has gone on, I doubt that is what it is. Could be lymphoid leukosis (looks similar to Marek's and strikes adults). Both are deadly and the most humane thing would be to put her down.

    She could also have internal issues going on that cause her discomfort (altho that doesn't explain the visual disturbance). Internal egg layers fill up the abdominal cavity with egg contents and develop internal infections which eventually will kill them. This can go on for a very long time. There is no cure for this either, except a hysterectomy, which is quite costly. Feel her underbelly between her legs..does it feel soft and watery or hard and swollen?

    Do you notice any other symptoms..stool color changes? What are the seizures like..I know it's tough, but what some consider a seizures could be other neurological issues going on? What kind of feed has she eaten up to this point and now? Was she supplemented with calcium...they will take calcium from their bones beginning in the 2nd year if you don't supply extra with their daily feed rations.

    I know this doesn't answer your inquiry, but it may help you to identify what's going on with her. I'm sorry things are not well and hope we can help.

    Last edited: Aug 23, 2008
  3. cthrash1

    cthrash1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Somerset, KY
    [​IMG] Hope everything works out for your baby...As hard as it would be for me to kill one of my babies, it would be harder watching them continuously suffer. If you decide on putting her to sleep but can't do it yourself maybe you can find someone that would do it for you.

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