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Please Help!! Marek's Disease and vaccination question. HELP!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by mbsommers, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. mbsommers

    mbsommers Hatching

    Jun 19, 2010
    I am new to the forum and find this site extremely valuable and I am reaching out in desperation for help!
    I have 4 amazing silkie chicks at 10 weeks old and about 2 weeks ago(Aug 3) one of them started acting funny, not running around with the other 3 as much, laying down often etc. We let them run in the yard during the day and I am home with them so I was able to notice a slight behaviour difference right away. We are new to keeping chickens, so I didn't have any experience or knowledge of Marek's. A few days later she was limping a bit and we thought she just hurt herself, so we kept an eye on her. She slowly got worse on the leg (not bending it, jutting out in front) and last Wednesday we brough her in the house and started looking up chicken sicknesses/symptoms on the internet. I have to say that when all the signs pointed to Marek's and I read the diagnosis and lack of cure I was devistated!
    I got them from a breeder off of craigslist and am not sure if she vaccinates, but am assuming since my chick has contracted it, she does not vaccinate.
    Now I watch the rest of them continually nad am worried sick that they will also show symptoms!
    My question to all of you -and I DO hope that someone can help clear this confusion up for me- is that in reading all of the info on this site and others, all that I have read says that the chick needs to be vaccinated right after birth or in the egg to protect it from contracting this horrid disease. But since mine are over 2 months, and since one of them is showing signs of the lesions/tumors affecting the nerves, I KNOW the others have been exposed (though we have kept them separate after we suspected Marek's) and have only read in a few places that giving the vaccine AFTER they have been exposed is beneficial, but most sites just say vaccinate before 24 hrs old.
    But my confusion is where I read that giving the vaccine late will not stop them from being infected with the disease, but it WILL stop the formation of tumors. (Mareks vaccine is unique in that it does not stop a bird from becoming infected with the virus,but it stops the formation of the Tumors that are caused by the Mareks virus. By: Peter J. Brown, First State Veterinary Supply, Inc.) All the info I have read says there is no cure and to cull your infected birds, but these are not just chickens to me! They are my friends, more than friends! We have cried many a tear after reading the diagnosis on Marek's and what it can do to your flock. I have spent night after night reading about it to only feel defeated until I read the post from "kathyinmo" from May 27th about Marek's. In the post it stated by Peter J. Brown that giving the vaccine later was good for a backup booster for high risk areas and that they can be vaccinated at any age if they have not been exposed.
    Since mine have been exposed, would this help stop the growth of the tumors?
    I can't stand to see any of the other three come down with this! It hurts too much!
    If anyone has had any experience with this or can help clarify I would love to hear from you!
    Thanks SO much!
  2. countrybum

    countrybum Songster

    Sep 15, 2008
    area pop. 96
    Did you have a Vet diagnosis the disease? Or are you just assuming that is what it is from the signs and symptoms? I have had baby chicks end up doing thte same thing and it was not due to Mareks. If 1 baby has Mareks usually they all do because Mareks is highly contagious. There are many things that can happen to babies to cause the signs and symptoms that you stated. Look up Mareks disease in the Wikipedia.
  3. wildeflowers

    wildeflowers I suspect fowl play!

    Jun 29, 2010
    Why don't you call the breeder and ask if they were vaccinated?

    If they were, then you know that it is very unlikely to be Marek's and you can rest easier. (Although I'm sure, like in human vacci's, it is not 100% effective.)

    If it is Marek's, I don't believe that you can vaccinate now that they have been exposed, but someone with more knowledge than me may chime in about that.

    If it were me, as hard as it is, I would cull and start over, making sure to get vaccinated chicks. [​IMG]
  4. mypicklebird

    mypicklebird Songster

    Aug 8, 2008
    Sonoma Co, CA
    It won't hurt to vaccinate an already exposed bird, it just won't help. The bird has to 'see' the vaccine before the actual virus to be helpful. Your bird is rather young to be affected by Marek's- it usually affects birds around point- of-lay, or older. Being a silkie, they are prone to head trauma. Being young and rapidly growing- this could also be a slipped tendon or other orthopedic problem. Certainly call the breeder and enquire about whether they were vaccinated. Marek's is a paralysis when it affects the legs and wings, not a pain thing. dragging the leg is paralysis, holding it up is pain. It the leg floppy or is it stiff and non bending? Does it bend at the joints? Is the bottom of the foot oK? Is there a band stuck around a toe, hiding in the fluff? Holding the leg out in front does not sound like Marek's to me, more often the leg drags behind as the chicken hops forward on the other leg.
  5. Agnella

    Agnella Chirping

    Jul 20, 2010
    N. Georgia
    Quote:Oh no! Really? Mine are not vaccinated and I was told that they are usually considered 'safe' from Marek's after the 5 month mark. [​IMG] Bummer.

    I hope your girls will be OK mbsommers.
  6. jessaw1981

    jessaw1981 Chirping

    May 30, 2010
    Franklin Nc
    yea everything I read said after 4 or 5 mo. they were safe ? I got mine from a feed store who gets them from mcmurry hatchery but I don't know if he had them vaccine before shipping because I know it cost more. I think like 3.00 more right ? I think they were like 2.99 for pullets. that's all he orders.
  7. mypicklebird

    mypicklebird Songster

    Aug 8, 2008
    Sonoma Co, CA
    25 cents per bird to vaccinate for Marek's at McMurray hatchery. Well worth the price. The feed stores around here only order vaccinated bird, and add the price of purchase into each chick- increases it less than a dollar. If you hatch at home, the bottle costs about 10$ and it vaccinates LOTS of birds, way more than the average hatcher would need to do at any one sitting.

    Point of lay for most breeds is around 4-5 months, this is when on average Marek's infection causes symptoms- this is the classic leg lameness/range paralysis. Marek's has many forms- the nerve tumor form that cause paralysis, the ocular form (weird grey iris), visceral tumor form (birds usually waste away, and may get distended bellies), and feather sheath tumor form- lumpy skin and feather follicles. The cases that have more slow progression or subtle symptoms- like the ocular form and skin form- may not cause a bird to look odd or ill until later. Sometimes years. Sorry- viruses are unpleasant, they do what they want, and symptoms can be varied as well as progression can vary quite a bit. Yes, it is less likely that a bird would succumb to the Marek's virus after they are 4-5 months old, but it is still possible. I know of many instances that this has happened to chickens belonging to people I know, but most die by 5 months old.

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