?Marek's...update on Thelma & Louise


9 Years
Aug 27, 2010
Quiet Corner, Connecticut
Hi everyone! I just wanted to share what's been going on with my girls this past 1 1/2 weeks. I posted a thread last Saturday so I won't go into great detail but... Thelma my 4 month old EE was walking a little funny for a few days and then her legs went completely paralyzed, she'd stand very briefly only to collapse and couldn't walk. I searched and searched and with the help of fellow BYC'rs it really looked as though my sweet Thelma had Marek's. She wasn't walking and was "gaping". I took her inside, gave a temporary home in our basement where she had access to food & water. I saw her pecking away at the food but wasn't sure if she was getting to the water so I was giving her water by dropper. Every day I wondered if I was doing the right thing by trying to nurse her back to health and every day she got worse. My father was going to cull her as soon as I made the decision, but I just couldn't. 6 days later the "gaping" stopped and she was up standing tall and walking. We made the decision to put her back out in the coop and run with her sisters. She's now been back out for 4 days and is doing fantastic. I don't know if the symptoms of Marek's have just subsided or if she had a form of botulism. I guess I'll never know. I'm just happy she's back to normal

Now, her sister Louise who is a 3 month old EE is having issues. She has a droopy left wing. It hangs down and she trips on it when she's walking. She can't fly at all. This has been an issue for about 5 days. We have a fairly steep ramp up from the run into the coop which she has never had a problem using. Usually she just flys up a bit onto the top of the ramp and walks in. The last two nights when I've gone to close up the coop for the night Louise is laying on her back, feet up in the air on the floor of the run. The first night I thought she was dead. Nope, just stuck on her back. She must have tried flying up, fell and landed on her back (as I've seen her attempt to fly and she always fails).
She's normally very skiddish, but when I find her on her back she just lays there. She lets me pick her up and place her in the coop and away she runs to the nesting box. (UGGGGH! Thelma & Louise refuse to roost at night...they sleep in the nesting boxes!) I don't know if she has a wing paralysis, which can happen with Marek's or if she injured it somehow. I don't know if trimming her wings will help with her tripping over it. I know it won't help her get up to the coop at night and she's going to depend on me for awhile to get her up there. What would you do about the wing issue?

Has anyone heard of recovery from paralysis from Marek's? Should I assume it's still Marek's for Thelma and possibly for Louise? Any ideas...? I know that the common practice is to cull birds with symptoms of Marek's but the fact that Thelma has shown such great improvement, I'm glad I didn't. My other two hens are older...over a year and are acting perfectly normal.

Thanks for any help!!! I appreciate it


Clay Valley Farmer

9 Years
Sep 7, 2010
If it is Marek's ,which it does sound like, recovery is not impossible, just very very unlikely. In all likelyhood the end result will be the same as things will tend to decline over time or give in to another manifestation of Marek's as it progresses.

It is a very personal choice on what you may want to do.

Some just let nature take it's course, others cull 100% no questions to protect their flock and others flocks, others nurture them to the last breath.

I find it usefull to decide what your health expectations are for the birds, set dates to them and do check-ups to see how they are doing against those expectations. For me a chicken must be able to feed & water it's self and be mobile, I simply can't/am not willing to give extended care to an immobile chicken. So when the chicken gets to that point the humain thing is to end the suffering at that point. To me a chicken needs to see and be mobile to be happy. Also I don't feel it is very responsible to keep sick birds that can easily transmit disease to the neibour's flock down the road via wild birds or other vectors.
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9 Years
Mar 22, 2010
try giving them some electrolyte solution and vitamin B12, may help. They are younger than my birds, but I just had a hen suddenly unable to walk for a week, looked it up here and found vitamin def. to be a common problem that leads to paralysis of the legs. It took another week of vitamins in her food, but she began to stand, then walk like a cripple, then walking like normal, she has been fine ever since. Hope your girls get better

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