Possible Marek's Disease?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by AerieChickens, Jan 31, 2017.

  1. AerieChickens

    AerieChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 29, 2017
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    Sad news, y'all.

    I lost one of my hens - a black sexlink named Maizy - last night at around 9:30pm. She had been a bit lethargic leading up to her passing, and I isolated her from the main flock a few days ago when I first noticed it. She let me pick her up easily, which she had never really done previously, and felt as though she had lost some significant weight. I don't think she was being kept away from the feeding/watering stations - there's two separate areas - because she wasn't the lowest ranking hen, and the ones who were lower ranking with her are doing fine. When I offered her food and water, she was happy to eat and drink, and her crop was always full. At one point, I was worried she may have had an impaction or sour crop, but she never quit eating and I never noticed any smell. I didn't see any signs of a mouth sore either.

    Fast forward to today - I decided to open her up to see if there was anything real obvious that stood out to me. I have lots of experience prepping chickens from my time volunteering at a large carnivore rescue. What I saw was her breast was very thin and had a bulbous appearance as though there were numerous, varying sized tumors across it. The swellings were firm to the touch, and when I cut into them, they were not puss filled. I didn't really see any swellings on her internal organs; her liver in particular looked fabulous. Heart seemed a bit small and weak. Nothing really stands out other than the firm swellings in her breast meat. Nothing unusual in her crop or gizzard to suggest an obstruction.

    I'll be doing some reading today, but I wanted to check in with y'all and see what your thoughts were. No one else in my flock is acting unusual or puny, so could this be a one time thing? I'm really worried about Marek's at the moment and what this could mean for the rest of my flock.

    Thank you so much for your time and information!
     
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    Sorry for your loss. Do you have any pictures of the organs? You may also want to read about avian lymphoid leukosis, another tumor-causing disease. You can get a necropsy by the state vet who can test feathers or tumor tissue for Mareks. Lymphoid leukosis can cause tumors, wasting, and an enlarged liver and bursa. Here are several articles on leukosis and one on Mareks:
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/disea...sis-lymphoid-leukosis-leukosis-sarkoma-group/
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/publications/6/diseases-of-poultry/202/lymphoid-leukosis/
    https://www.merckvetmanual.com/poultry/neoplasms/lymphoid-leukosis-in-poultry
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq
     
  3. AerieChickens

    AerieChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    I didn't take any pictures of the organs, but they had a generic appearance. Great idea for the future though in case this happens again.

    Thanks for your thoughts and the links!
     
  4. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Hi

    So sorry to read that you lost a hen and especially that it might be Marek's. How old was she?

    Did you cut into the masses/tumours and if so what was the texture like. I did a DIY post mortem exam a few years ago on a bird that I had to euthanize which had classic Marek's paralysis symptoms and she had a subcutaneous tumour on her abdomen and another on her thigh. When I cut into them, it looked like a mixture of sausage meat and cooked egg all mixed together. I subsequently had several more juvenile birds develop lameness over a period of a few days/weeks and Marek's was confirmed. I lost about 5 or 6 young birds to it that first year but since then I have broody reared chicks within the flock and only lost 2 or 3 each subsequent year with Marek's symptoms. Last summer my broodies raised 56 chicks so losing 2 out of that isn't as bad odds as you would expect from the info your read about Marek's and I don't vaccinate. Just so you know that even if your hen did die of Marek's, it may not be nearly as bleak an outlook as some would have you believe.

    Best wishes

    Barbara
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. AerieChickens

    AerieChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 29, 2017
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    Maizy was not quite a year old when I lost her. I think she was about 9-10 months old.

    I did cut into them, and the texture looked like sausage meat. She never experienced any paralysis though. So far, no one else in the flock is exhibiting any weird signs.

    Thanks for your thoughts!
     
  6. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Thanks for that information. It really helps me to understand and identify tumour material by adding other peoples' findings to my own limited experience and because I have Marek's in my flock it is useful to improve my knowledge as much as possible as well as share that knowledge/experience....together via the wonders of the WWW we can amass more knowledge of diagnosis and treatment of this horrible disease than most veterinary practitioners. Self help is a powerful resource.

    Fingers crossed the rest of your flock remains healthy and this is just an isolated incident.
     

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