Possible Marek's in my chickens

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by sayga, Oct 15, 2013.

  1. sayga

    sayga Chirping

    Mar 31, 2013
    Portland, Oregon

    The link above is a link to a Facebook video I took 10 days ago of my female Golden Laced Polish, "Pinky Pie." This was when she could still walk, though she was having difficulties.

    I got these chickens, my first chickens ever, as 3 day old chicks in March of this year (2013). Pinky Pie, the Golden Laced Polish in the video above, had trouble standing even as a baby. I thought she was dizzy or had problems due to her vaulted skull (the Polish breed). She would regularly stagger, then fall off the chick feeder, but I thought it was baby chick sleepiness/clumsiness. As she got older, she would get tired easily and once she got to where food was, she would lay down next to it and peck it.

    About 2 weeks ago (age 7 months old), she started having more and more trouble walking, and her feet seemed to be hitting the ground more forcefully. I could hear her feet smack the ground when she walked.

    Then over the weekend, it got cold (40 degrees F) and she took a turn for the worse, and couldn't stand. She would push the ground with one leg and flap the opposite wing to get around. We had her in the house where she contentedly lay on her side, gobbling up fresh corn and her feed and cuddling with the kids as they watched TV. I told the kids we didn't know what was wrong but we knew she had always been weird and we were probably saying goodbye to her. We put her back outside and made sure she got into the coop for the night but now it's 3 days later and she's still hanging in there with an awesome appetite.



    The REALLY bad news is that yesterday morning, one of the other chickens, a Delaware (named Rarity) who has always been healthy and robust, hesitated coming out of her coop yesterday morning, and then limped all the way down the chicken ramp. This morning, her toes on one leg were curled under and she was having a lot of trouble walking... So whatever it is, it isn't just limited to Pinky Pie anymore.

    And THAT is why I'm here posting on the Marek's thread. My sister is a vet, but not a chicken vet (although she does have chickens of her own) and she suggested it might be Marek's. When it was just one special needs chicken, I thought it was just one with problems, but now that another one is having issues, I'm really worried it's a virus or other disease.

    Only ONE of my five 7-month-old chickens are laying, in case that is relevant. Our RIR (Apple Jack) started laying in mid-September. None of the others have laid yet, but due to their age they are all on layer feed. Help?

    (I have 2 Polish, a Rhode Island Red, a Delaware and an Easter Egger).
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    this is a pic of curly toe paralysis (riboflavin deficiency)...you can consider this as a possibility if needed

    Also, here:

    http://www.apa-abayouthpoultryclub.... SYMPTOMS FOR DIAGNOSING POULTRY DISEASES.pdf
    see paralysis for some other things mentioned next to Mareks

    I haven't dealt with Mareks. I hope they get better soon (and hope it is not Mareks). I don't know what the problem is, but I hope this helps.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Try some poultry vitamins in the water. It may be Mareks, but riboflavin and thiamine deficiencies can cause many foot and leg problems, especially curled toes
  4. sayga

    sayga Chirping

    Mar 31, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    Well, we lost our Delaware, Rarity, who fell ill with the curled foot suddenly. She started walking on her hocks, acting sleepy, cluck-sneezing loudly and suddenly (but very infrequently, maybe once an hour), and fluffing her feathers. Yesterday she was gasping for breath so I gently ended her. (Put her in a barrel with a jug of vinegar next to her, added baking soda into the vinegar and put on the lid, and she suffocated ). :(

    I took the kids to the garden center to buy a tree to plant over her, and we didn't plant her anywhere our other chickens would ever have access too since we don't know what it was. Everyone else is fine!

    And Pinky Pie, who has been special needs since birth, improved and started walking again. Her bad leg is still bad and paralyzed from the ankle down, but she regained her strength and is now hopping around on her good leg.

    So that was all very weird. I miss our special little Rarity. I was ready for Pinky to die but not Rarity. But the other chickens aren't showing any signs of illness so hopefully it stays like that.
  5. realsis

    realsis Crazy for Silkies

    Jan 17, 2013
    Yes she looks like she had mareks. That does not mean your other birds will come down with it. But IF it WAS mareks it could mean that the other birds COULD be carriers. As I understand it, (I could be wrong) but mareks is a very highly contageious AIRBORNE disease. If one has mareks it doesn't mean the others will sucumb to the illness but it can mean that they CARRY the illness and CAN infect a new bird brought to the property . Meaning they don't necessarily have to be ill to be carriers of the disease. I would take percaution and vaccinate any other bird brought to the property which is not 100% but can protect them from the virus. According to my chicken health book vaccinated birds CAN still get mareks but it lessons the chances. And if they do get it according to my book the vaccination can help lesson the symptoms. So be aware that birds CAN actually be carriers if exposed to mareks without having symptoms them selfs. Or symptoms stay hidden until times of stress then appear. So just be cautious with other birds brought on to your property. As I said I'm NO expert on mareks nor have I delt with the disease myself. This is just what I've read in several chicken health books I have. I'm pretty sure its correct about the carrier status of the mareks disease. I wanted to share this information with you in hopes to help. There ARE many experts here on this forum who have delt with this disease and have done extensive research on this subject. Perhaps they can chime in here and let me know if what ive read is incorrect. But I have personally talked to a chicken doctor and supposed expert during vaccination of my own birds and he also explained it this way to me. Also he said after vaccination the birds need time to develop immunity BEFORE they are exposed to the disease. If they are vaccinated and exposed before time for immunity to set in they too can contract the disease. So you want to give time for immunity to set in before exposure. I hope this helps. I know we're not 100% certain this IS mareks although it does look like textbook mareks. Its just best to be cautious with new birds brought in incase it IS mareks. Good luck to you in the future and im so very sorry you lost your bird.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: