Marek's survivor - reintegration w/ flock?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by ShyPeep, Jul 29, 2016.

  1. ShyPeep

    ShyPeep New Egg

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    Jul 29, 2016
    Hi all,

    I have an 11-week old hen who is a Marek's survivor. All 12 chicks were vaccinated at the hatchery (
    HVT/IBD/RISPENS​
    ), and one stopped eating, stopped growing and became immobile at week 4. Since Chava (the chicken) wasn't immediately isolated (my own ignorance) I presume all 12 were exposed to the virus in the brooder. The other 11 are not symptomatic and now all out in the coop/run/free-ranging. Chava's legs were fully paralyzed (and classically splayed) and one wing was "droopy" from June 13th until last week. Early on, the vet said "it's Marek's, cull her." I didn't. Research [mostly] said "it's Marek's, it's not treatable." I treated and provided supportive care (most of which I learned or extrapolated from BYC!).


    Over the last 3-4 days Chava began swinging her legs, gripping w/ her toes, controlling her tail and wing feathers, developing new feathers, gaining weight, preening like she was going somewhere fancy, re-learning balance and ... wait for it ... bearing her weight and shuffling along like a toddler learning to walk. This morning she outran me down the hall.

    The whole treatment and supportive care story is long; I'm a nerd and so documented every aspect of everything I tried, all the effects, all the successes and failures and stupidities ... I'm considering putting it all together in case it helps anyone in the same boat. But that's for another time. Here's my question at this point:

    Chava wants to rejoin the flock. But I forgot something important in my excitement: she's a carrier for life and will continue to shed the virus. I think that they were all exposed to the virus in the brooder together when Chava first exhibited symptoms, and have been under the impression that their vaccines insulated them from becoming symptomatic. They're all probably carriers, given my reasoning. But anyway - reintegration is re-exposure. Sooooo .... anyone have any thoughts on reintegrating a Marek's chicken w/ the entire flock, who were probably exposed and have been vaccinated? I go back and forth: does the risk to the flock outweigh the benefit of reintegration to Chava? How sure am I that they've all been exposed (pretty sure)? If they've been exposed once, and are exposed again, does that mean anything, or is that initial exposure and lack of symptoms mean they'll stay asymptomatic?

    ??????

    I've been so totally absorbed in wondering if Chava was going to live, and then if she'd ever regain use of her legs, and then the degree of recovery, that I really honestly failed to consider what to do if she totally fully recovered. Uhm ... it sort of snuck up on me in a fantastic sort of way. (I was prepared for her to remain a super-special-needs chicken.)

    Any guidance is much appreciated. Theories are fine too, since those are what I've been operating under for weeks, now. :)

    ShyPeep.
     
  2. SweetandSavory

    SweetandSavory Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 21, 2015
    If it's Mareks and they spent anytime together then they have all been exposed. Also, wherever she got it they all got it if they have been together since the hatchery. My understanding of the vaccination is that it doesn't stop them from getting the disease but from dying from it and in a small percentage of birds it doesn't work at all. So I would introduce her back into the flock but be prepared that she could go down hill again.

    I'm new to chickens, a little over a year, but we have one of the most virulent strains.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2016
  3. ShyPeep

    ShyPeep New Egg

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    Jul 29, 2016
    Thanks S&S. I think you're right. Yesterday morning I set up a puppy play-pen within the main run and put her in before letting the others outside. Even though they're all the same age, Chava's less than 1/2 their size, and they were NOT happy she was there. They spent the morning surrounding her pen, pecking at her each time she came close. Chava, on the other hand, was so excited and kept running up to them chirping. By the afternoon everyone was mostly ignoring her. She also stayed in the coop last night, in a separated area. I'm going to keep this separate-but-together thing up all week and let them out together next weekend when I can stay home to supervise.

    Our rooster played an interesting role - he strutted around and around the outside of the pen, giving Chava "stink eye" but staying in between her and the hens. He didn't participate in any of the pecking, but jumped in between the pecking a couple of times (and other times let it happen). Endlessly fascinating, and the more I watch my flock the more I understand how much I don't understand.

    I hear ya about the possibility of relapse; I'm keeping up her meds and will keep documenting to see what happens. I'm sorry to hear you have a virulent strain in your flock! I hope it runs its course as quickly as possible.
     
  4. alabu

    alabu Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 1, 2016
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    Would love to know how your treating mareks, I have a cockerel with it too. He seemed to be getting better for a few days but now is worse. I had a discussion with a vet at Cornell that said hatcheries can miss up to 5% of the chicks when giving the vaccine. The vaccine helps the chick build resistance and they won't grow tumors if the have been vaccinated. I also did not isolate my cockerel right away and I think my whole flock has been exposed so if my bird does get better I will try to turn back out with the flock.
     
  5. ShyPeep

    ShyPeep New Egg

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    Jul 29, 2016
    Sorry to hear about your cockerel, Alabu! I'm not surprised to hear that hatcheries miss ~5% when vaccinating; disappointed, but not surprised. I'm so new to chickens that I didn't isolate my sick chick for about a week after she was showing symptoms either, so I KNOW everyone was exposed. By the time I started treating and researching, my chick was totally paralyzed in both legs. Throughout the treatment she became worse (both wings also became paralyzed) but then rapidly progressed after 3 weeks. So here's what I did, that I believe worked:

    • Bought a Chihuahua harness and rabbit cage; slung chick fully suspended in middle of cage w/ harness. I did try to make my own harness (socks, shirt sleeves, towels, rags) and just sucked at it and bought the silly Chihuahua harness. She liked the sling, it got her up off the floor and out of her own poop and took weight off her organs, and put her legs in a more anatomically-natural position. Or so I think, anyway.

    • Hypericum Perforatum (Boiron 30C): dropped 5 pellets into a small dropper bottle and filled with distilled water. Let dissolve. Gave at least 10 drops (about 1-2 eyedroppers full) each morning and night. In the early days this was really hard; I'd drop one drop on top of her beak - it would either roll in or she'd instinctively open her beak to drink the drop. While she was smacking her beak together I'd try to get a couple more drops in. Eventually she got used to this and stronger, and some days she got like 3 droppers full. At least 10 drops, up to 3 droppers, I figure, is good. Honestly, I missed a lot of mornings but never the night treatment - so maybe it didn't matter or would have worked faster had I been more vigilant?

    • Causticum (Boiron 30C): I found only a tiny bit of research that linked Causticum w/ Marek's treatment, but researched Causticum for human use, and it seemed at least as likely to be helpful as Hypericum Perforatum. I really figure this couldn't hurt, so I did the exact same thing in a second dropper w/ the Causticum. I gave the Causticum immediately after the Hypericum every day. I didn't wait in between, I just did one and then the other.

    • Food/Water: she stopped drinking on her own early on, but would always eat. So I mixed feed with water into a mash and she wolfed it down. This was totally messy and the mash dried on her beak and had to be picked off. I have dried chicken feed mash all over my walls and floors. I think the key w/ the food interacting w/ the homeopathic stuff above is that her mouth should be clean (not full of food remnants) when you give the Hypericum Perforatum and Causticum, so that it penetrates the soft tissue and is absorbed. Anyway, I tried to give the meds through droppers before getting into the mash feeding frenzy. After a week she started drinking on her own again, so I attached bowls of feed and water to the side of the rabbit cage and kept her suspended close enough so that she could reach them throughout the day on her own.

    • Vitamin B: I read over and over that this could help. Nutritional yeast (bought at health food store from bulk bin) has a full spectrum of Vitamin B, so I sprinkled some into her feed. She totally loves the yeast, picks it out of the food, and it doesn't seem to have any negative gastrointestinal effect. I also bought vitamin B12 in liquid form (it's bright pink, I dunno why) and put some into her water every day. It's water soluble so she just vents the extra. No real dosage on this, I just tried to keep up a really high amount (compared to normal).

    • Massage/PT: this sounds crazy, but I was convinced that the sling would cut off her blood supply to legs. Sometimes her feet felt cold. So every night I'd take her down from the sling and massage her legs/thighs, scratch her head, talk to her and give her a luke-warm bath. This may have done absolutely nothing other than made us both feel better for awhile, which in my book is totally worth it. Oh - about the sling - it seemed sort of .. skinny? .. on her chest, and uncomfortable. I bought baby socks and put it between the sling and the chick; figured it gave her padding and helped hold her head up a bit. I can send you a picture if I'm not being very clear with the explanation. My husband likened it to a small maxi-pad on underwear and actually thought that might work better, if you can imagine that description better.

    That's it - my "treatment" regimen. Or "tweetment" as my husband decided it was. Based on research (BYC forums gave me a great starting place!!) but pretty much just winging it and going with my gut. I have a biochem and some lab research background (another life time, it seems, and career took a way different turn), so I know just enough science to be ignorantly arrogant with this stuff. [​IMG] Seriously no improvement for about 2 weeks and then some vague leg swinging and foot movement. Then all of a sudden she was contorting in her sling and at that point I let her out and she regained balance/mobility w/in a week after that.

    Things I tried that I believe didn't work or which I just gave up on:

    • Colloidal silver: I keep reading about this in conjunction w/ Hypericum. The first one I bought was suspended in grain alcohol. Stupid stupid stupid; drunk chick anyone? yeah, read the label. I bought some in water, and gave it a couple of times. It was all just too much with the other things, so I stopped. Could be helpful, though, based on what others have said. It comes in a dropper bottle and you could give it along w/ the other meds (but I wouldn't mix anything together in the same bottle as the hypericum and causticum). I totally don't understand dosage and effects of the silver, which made me nervous and played a role in my stopping this.

    • Vitamin E: Okay, I think this would have been beneficial but I was unsure of the right dosage. I bought capsules and pierced one to put into her water. Vitamin E is NOT water soluble, meaning you could give too much. I think I did, which turned her poop black and oily for a day. I gave this up only because I didn't have the time to research dosage, and was scared I'd do more harm with it.
     
  6. alabu

    alabu Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 1, 2016
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    wow, thank you for all the info. I ended up making a sling out of my old bathing suit hung in a medium size dog crate. He can reach his food and water from it. Before I was able to get hypericum, I started him on baby aspirin 3x a day. He showed marked improvement for a few days. And would get out of his sling. I started the hypericum about a week ago and was better for a few days but now not so much. He is now back in his sling and I put him back on chick starter and has always had vitamins and electrolytes in his water. Today I started him on acyclovir. I did the warm bath once, he wasn't a fan. :eek:)
     
  7. ShyPeep

    ShyPeep New Egg

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    Jul 29, 2016
    Sounds like you're doing great! My mantra was perseverance, perseverance, perseverance. And I'm totally sold on the nutritional yeast for vitamin B. My chick fought the bath each time, but then konked out afterwards for hours wrapped up in the blanket, "purring" away contentedly. Shrug. Keep me posted on your cockerel and I'm wishing you and him the best!
     
  8. alabu

    alabu Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 1, 2016
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    oh I forgot about the nutritional yeast. I gave it to him for a bit, but wasn't sure he liked it. He absolutely loves watermelon, but I try not to give him much in favor of denser nutrients
     
  9. ShyPeep

    ShyPeep New Egg

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    Jul 29, 2016
    Alabu - how's your cockerel doing? My little one's still doing great, although reintegration w/ the flock has been way tougher than I anticipated, and she's still in her "playpen" in the middle of the run and separated in the coop at night. I'm hoping that in a couple of weeks she'll have grown enough to partially catch up w/ the others be able to hold her own against the pecking and jumping.
     
  10. alabu

    alabu Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 1, 2016
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    I have been pretty discouraged here, not showing any progress. I have been continuing baby aspirin and hypericum. Last night I started massaging his legs and feet. This morning he is a lot less floppy and he seems to be doing a little better getting around. Today I laid him upside down in my lap and massaged and exercised his legs and feet and he seemed to like it. I want to start doing warm bathes and massaging, but don't tell my husband. He already thinks I'm nuts.
     

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