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Oh no, I think it's Mareks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by happima, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. happima

    happima Chirping

    Sep 14, 2011
    San Francisco Bay Area
    I've spent the last couple of days treating my chick who stopped walking for a vitamin deficiency.

    Talked to a chicken doctor who thought most likely it's Mareks. Read up on the disease and symptoms do seem to match, as the chick does seem to have paralysis in the legs.

    She was supposedly vaccinated, so how did she get this? Will the other three chicks also come down with it, since she has been with the others while sick. From what I can gather this disease is spread through the dust on the wings getting in the air, so no keeping exposure to others away anyhow.

    What do I do now? Do I have to put her down? What does that mean? Can I protect the other chicks or just hope that their vaccine works? What do I need to be concerned about for any future chicks?

    I feel like I'm going through chick raising boot camp right now. [​IMG]

  2. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Songster

    Aug 6, 2011
    Pacific North West
    so sorry for the issue. Dote over her and follow the vets instructions. Hard thing to do is say goodby but the earlier the better. The personal attachment to these little creatures is strong, believe me I fell head over heals in love in the car no in the store with these little girls I have. I was brought up believing we are on earth to protect these little creatures and all that need help. I was also taught to be merciful, if your little girl doesn't come around soon you may need to CULL the bird.
  3. djennings

    djennings Songster

    Jun 10, 2011
    Sabine Pass, TX.
    quote=4H kids and mom]Not alot of us are on here this early, but I found your post. I think this article should clear up your questions of young chickens but older birds can also be affected. In contrast to the lymphoid leukosis tumor response, Marek's disease may be observed in more diverse locations.
    Marek's disease is caused by a virus belonging to the Herpes virus group. Much is known about thabout Marek's.

    "Marek's Disease (Visceral Leukosis)
    Marek's disease is characteristically a disease e transmission of the virus; however, it appears that the virus is concentrated in the feather follicles and shed in the dander (sloughed skin and feather cells). The virus has a long survival time in dander since viable virus can be isolated from houses that have been depopulated for many months.

    The usual mode of transmission is by aerosols containing infected dander and dust. Young birds are most susceptible to infection by Marek's disease; however, since the incubation period is short, clinical symptoms can appear much earlier than in the case with lymphoid leukosis.

    Marek's disease may produce a variety of clinical responses, all lymphoid in character. These are acute visceral, neural, ocular, skin or combinations of the responses that can be seen.

    Marek's of the visceral type is characterized by widespread involvement with lesions commonly seen in gonads, liver, spleen, kidney and occasionally heart, lungs and muscles. The disease is often acute, with apparently healthy birds dying very rapidly with massive internal tumors. The disease may appear in broiler-age birds but the most severe losses occur in replacement pullet flocks prior to onset of egg production.

    The neural type of Marek's is typified by progressive paralysis of the wings, legs and neck. Loss of body weight, anemia, labored respiration and diarrhea are common symptom. If lesions are present, they are confined to the nerve trunks and plexes enervating the paralyzed extremities. Frequently no gross lesions can be observed.

    Ocular (eye) leukosis or "gray-eye" is usually seen in early maturity. Morbidity and mortality are usually low but may approach twenty-five percent in some flocks. It is characterized by the spotty depigmentation or diffuse graying of the iris in the eye. The pupil develops an irregular shape and fails to react to light. Emaciation diarrhea and death follow.

    Skin leukosis produces the most severe losses in broilers. The losses result from high condemnations at the processing plant. Enlargement of the feather follicles due to accumulations of lymphocytes is the typical lesion. This is the most infective virus since it is produced in the regions of the feather follicles and is shed with the skin dander.

    Acute Marek's disease can be extremely rapid in its course, producing mortality in apparently healthy birds. However, in some cases the lesions may regress and clinically affected birds may make complete recoveries.

    Diagnosis is based upon flock history and disease manifestations. Accurate diagnosis may depend on results of laboratory procedures. As is the case with lymphoid leukosis, there is no treatment for Marek's disease.

    A vaccine is available that is extremely effective (90% +) in the prevention of Marek's disease. It is administered to day-old chickens as a subcutaneous injection while the birds are in the hatchery. Use of the vaccine requires strict accordance with manufacturer's
  4. Magic Birdie

    Magic Birdie Crowing

    May 3, 2011
    Magic Birdie land
    [​IMG] [​IMG] I wish I could help [​IMG]
  5. happima

    happima Chirping

    Sep 14, 2011
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Not taking any drastic measures right away, but need to know...how does one "cull" ?? It's the neurological one that seems to fit: paralysis of the legs and maybe one of the wings.

    I don't know if I'm up for this...[​IMG]
  6. ScottyHOMEy

    ScottyHOMEy Songster

    Jun 21, 2011
    Waldo County, Maine
    I don't know if I'm up for this...

    You obviously have come to the realization that it's what needs to be done, and I don't know of anyone here who would tell you it will be easy.

    I'll just hazard a guess that you have little if any exposure to/experience with processing birds for the table. Whether that's right assumption or not, culling is a simpler matter, with fewer options needing to be considered as far as the method.

    If you are armed and live in an area where it is permissible, a single shot to the head is probably the least dramatic/traumatic, if only for allowing some small physical distance and detachment.

    That failing, the broomstick method of breaking the neck is probably the cleanest, but it does require that direct contact that makes the job difficult for many.

    None of us look forward to having to cull a sick animal, but it is one of the responsibilities of husbandry. I've done it any number of times, will do it in the future when it's the right thing to do. I'll never get used to it. I can say, though, that there's a certain relief when you're done that you can turn into a positive thought for having done what was right for the animal.

    Chin up.​
  7. AV Brahmas

    AV Brahmas In the Brooder

    Sep 30, 2011
    The Great White North
    I actually like to shoot sick poultry as it is really the least traumatic to the bird of all the options. Shooting a baby chick, however, is likely to send you spiraling into therapy. Could get messy! Maybe with a BB gun???

    I understand your issues with this very difficult area. Really small chicks can have their necks easily dislocated in the hand. Horrible as it sounds, since I was a kid most of the adult breeders I knew threw them in the trash can. Violently and making sure they hit the side hard enough to kill. Just do it quickly and efficiently and then walk away. As long as I have been doing this, I still hate it. How do I do it personally??? I do not care to discuss it.

    Vaccinate all your birds for Mareks and it will eventually be worked out of the flock.

  8. heatherkh

    heatherkh Chirping

    Jul 21, 2011
    Clackamas, Oregon
    happima, I'm so sorry it has come to this. I can't give you any culling advice, as I haven't had to (yet - knock wood). But my heart goes out to you.
  9. happima

    happima Chirping

    Sep 14, 2011
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Quote:Strange thing is these chicks were vaccinated against Marek's and supposedly had no exposure. I picked these chicks up myself, went to the home they were raised, and they were raised in hygenic conditions.

    My husband is out until Thursday. I'm hoping maybe he could do this. Though he is not big into chicken raising, so I doubt I'll be able to rope him in. I know I should be able to do this myself, but would really like to outsource this task. Will vets do it? I don't want to spread this horrid disease anywhere it doesn't need to be.
  10. fezlet

    fezlet Chirping

    Sep 19, 2011
    I'm so sorry happima [​IMG] [​IMG] You'll get through this. We'll be here for you.

    As for culling, I don't think I'd use a BB gun. I won't discuss why, but I wouldn't do it that way. You could try bleeding the jugular vein since it'd be the least traumatic for the chick AND YOU. It's like they just fall asleep if you do it right. Blood leaves the brain and is bled out through the cut that is made, so for the bird they just... slip away. I don't know from experience of course, but I'm a nursing major and it seems that it would be just like falling asleep. Here's a video of a very kind way to cull a bird using the jugular method.

    Please be warned. Although it is not graphic the anticipation is worse than the actual process. I cried while watching, but I had to because I was afraid I'd have to do it with one of mine. The woman in the video is very kind-hearted and sympathetic.


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