Marek's..is my flock doomed?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Cris_L, Jun 3, 2017.

  1. Cris_L

    Cris_L New Egg

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    Jun 3, 2017
    Last year we got our first back yard chickens. We got three from one breeder then a few weeks later added another from a different breeder.
    It wasn't long until one of the originals got Marek's and had to be put to sleep. Then this week the one we added from the other dealer also got Marek's and we had to put her down yesterday.

    Will all my flock face the same fate.or is there anything I can do to prevent it happening? The others at the moment seem healthy.

    In the spring of this year we added a beautiful Peking frizzle, I wouldn't have bought her if I had known they were still at risk.

    Any advise would be grateful received.
     
  2. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    Hi

    So sorry to hear your flock picked up Marek's. I've been living with it for about 3 years now but I'm fortunate to have a relatively mild strain. It's a difficult disease to predict as there are so many symptoms and variations. My broody hens raised 56 chicks last summer within my flock and only 3 developed Marek's symptoms. 2 deteriorated to the point that they had to be euthanized but the third, a bantam pekin cockerel fully recovered and looking at him you would not believe he had been so lame he was unable to walk for a week. He is the picture of health and making a total nuisance of himself trying to mate my large foul hens....randy little oik!

    Since you say you bought a Pekin frizzle, I'm assuming you are in the UK or Australia. Here in the UK from what I have heard, the Marek's strains are not generally as aggressive as those in the USA which sometimes wipes out almost whole flocks of young birds. I give supportive care within the flock... keeping them happy and stress free and with good nutrition...vitamin supplementation helps. Basically supporting the immune system as much as possible, as Marek's compromises it a bit like AIDs in humans and they often succumb to infections that their body would normally fight off.

    I would be wary of adding any new birds to your flock or perhaps see if the breeder you got your youngsters from, will sell you some adult birds as these may have resistance to the strain you have and are past the vulnerable age for contracting it. You could then possibly look at breeding from them if you wish to increase your flock but unfortunately there will always be some casualties to Marek's once your flock has it. Those birds that make it to adulthood (over a year old) without showing any symptoms of it are pretty unlikely to get it but must be considered carriers because they have been exposed.

    My experience of Marek's is not nearly as bad as a lot of what you read about it and whilst each loss is heart breaking, the general outlook is not so dismal.

    Good luck with finding a way forward and if you have any specific questions, just ask.

    Regards

    Barbara
     
  3. Cris_L

    Cris_L New Egg

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    Jun 3, 2017
    Thanks Barbara, yes I'm in the UK.

    It surprised me when my Silkie got Marek's this past week as she's a year old. I thought (wrongly perhaps) that it only got younger birds.
    This happened over 6 months after the first bird was put to sleep.

    I guess time will tell if the remaining 3 will catch it or not.
     
  4. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    I am guessing that your silkie probably contracted the virus at the same time as the other one when she was a juvenile but didn't develop symptoms until 6+ months later. The virus is a Herpes type virus and lies dormant until an attack is triggered, similar to cold sores in humans but unfortunately a lot more serious. You don't know which birds have it and which don't, until they experience an attack and those are often triggered by stress. Sometimes there is an initial attack that can be quite short lived. I've had birds be lame for a couple of days, even to the point of floundering on the ground and then a day or two later, be totally normal but then get a second attack up to a year later.
    Silkies and Seramas seem to be more susceptible to Marek's so if you have predominantly those breeds you may experience higher losses.
     

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