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Potential Marek's-related Death, Dissection: *GRAPHIC PHOTOS WARNING*

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by davemonkey, Nov 9, 2013.

  1. davemonkey

    davemonkey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First and foremost, the reason for this post is to get some clues about what killed my Roo. He died "naturally" (meaning, we didn't kill him and no predator got to him). He was about 45 weeks old or so (born Dec 26...died 2 days ago, so whatever that makes him).

    So my brother lost a few birds and sent photos of organs, etc...to a vet and he believes it's Marek's-related. I lost a hen a few weeks ago with the same symptoms (lethargic behavior for a couple days or so, then death) and a couple days ago our Roo died. He held on for 3 weeks worth of symptoms though, instead of just the 3 days that my hen held on.

    He looked otherwise healthy and I have almost zero knowledge about chicken organs, but I want to share the photos of the autopsy and get any feedback about the things I thought were curious.


    The first ting I noticed was this dark and large vein running along the side and up the wing. I've not noticed anything like this before while processing a chicken, so this piqued my interest.
    [​IMG]


    Here is that same vein (sorry for the blur). Note the stain in the skin around the vein.
    [​IMG]


    For Marek's, I expected the meat to have dark stains/marks in it like my brother's hens had. Chuck's meat looks really clean though...I almost went ahead and kept it for eating, but ended up not.
    [​IMG]


    Here, I removed the breast meat and top of the rib cage. I think I damaged the lungs while I was doing this, but the blood/red you see on the heart was there pre-autopsy. That also had me scratching my head. (Second post coming with more details.)
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
  2. davemonkey

    davemonkey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Continuing...

    Ignore my finger for a moment and take a look at the dark red blotch on the liver (if that's the liver). That was there prior to autopsy and appears exactly as it was before I removed the rib cage. Now focus at my finger. The myocardial sac was filled with fluid...very squishy inside there. The blood on the membranes was there prior to my messing around in there.
    [​IMG]


    Just a bit above my thumb and a hair to the right, you'll see a cut/lesion. This was a small one and there were a few of these. I'm thinking that's not normal, but I don't really know. After pulling on it like this, they all began to "weep" a bit.
    [​IMG]


    The heart did not look normal to me at all. It was very soft compared to what I'm used to (though this bird did sit in the fridge for 2 days). The top parts of the heart (one by my thumb that is very dark, and the opposite part) were extremely soft and mushy.
    [​IMG]

    The "green" thing here didn't look that green until the camera flash hit it. I've got no idea what it is. The gizzard is the large thing beneath it. I pulled these up and out of the way to reveal...
    [​IMG]

    ...these. I don't know what I'm looking at, but there it is. Anyone have any ideas what killed my Roo?
    [​IMG]
     
  3. davemonkey

    davemonkey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Even an educated guess would be helpful. I realize there probably aren't a whole bunch of vets lurking the forums. [​IMG]
     
  4. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    The green thing is part of the liver "system", but can't remember what it's called. Spleen or gall bladder maybe?

    [​IMG]

    -Kathy
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
  5. davemonkey

    davemonkey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks Kathy.

    I've been doing some more reading and comparing to a couples hens I butchered yesterday for meat (one's that I know were exposed to Marek's and had never been vaccinated). Here's what I've been able to glean so far:

    This Roosters spleen (last picture, the round ball closest to my finger) was larger than normal. The greenish thing is the gall-bladder, and I don't know if it looks normal or not. I don't think anything was wrong with the liver because he didn't have much fat in him, and liver failure/complications are supposed to result in a lot of fat build-up since it can't help the body convert the food into proteins. His heart looked really bad and, except for the fact that I don't really know the proper definition, I'd say he died of congestive heart failure. The myocardial sac was filled with fluid, and the whole heart except for the very bottom/right section was mushy...not like any chicken heart I've ever touched (and I've handed a few). Also, the blood veins at the top/left are something I've never seen on a heart before. It may have been Marek's realted (the disease perhaps caused other issues that led up to this), but ultimately, he had a heart attack and then his heart slowly gave out over a 3 week period. That's my guess.

    The hens, by contrast, had extremely heavy amounts of fat deposited along the organs, skin, and especially on the gizzard. From what I am reading, this is due to liver problems. The fat tissue was so yellow that I was baffled at first. But then I stumbled on a stick of butter in my fridge that answered my concern. If you ever compare "normal" butter with grass-fed butter, the one is near-white, while the later is dark yellow. I believe the dark yellow of the chicken fat I saw is due to their free-ranging and limited amounts of bag feed.
     
  6. LilRedRoo

    LilRedRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The gall bladder and the spleen both look swollen, though the spleen looks almost normal sized compared to the proventriculus (your finger is touching it; it's just above the "gizzard" aka ventriculus). The gall bladder being the green thing, and the spleen being the liver-colored marble by your finger in the last pic. The heart lacks fat deposits where I normally see them in healthy birds we've "harvested." Two of the Marek's birds I've opened up had similarly shaped hearts, and I've never seen that in a healthy bird. The lesions are pretty obvious. Of six birds I've taken the time to do a slow amateur-autopsy on, 3 had lesions and such in the meat, while the other 3 had it internally, some with yellow goo. All shared the same outward symptoms. All lacked the fat where you'd expect it, as in their illness they are burning it off and not eating to replenish. Knowing where these birds came from and the diagnosis of Chuck's kinfolk, I'd have to go with Marek's if I were putting pennies on the table. He's a bit mature, but there's no telling how long he's been fighting this either.

    From our initial outbreak, we are down to a dozen layers and the rooster, not counting the bantam OE-BBR hen. They all seem like they are fine and are theoretically beyond it, but from now on we will only get vaccinated chicks, and we are not getting hopes up on broodies that hatch out chicks. Hopefully one day we'll have "Bremond-Ready" layers and won't have to worry about it anymore.
     
  7. davemonkey

    davemonkey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks LilRedRoo for the info. I totally would not have known what the proventriculus was until you pointed it out. Yeah, there was ZERO fat in and on this bird except for the two tiny lines of it around either side of the heart. It's the total opposite of the hens, who had extra fat all over the place. I guess it just depends on what organs are affected first. In this case, it seems the heart got hit and he fought it for a long time until his other organs started to fail. Then hens seem to have got hit in the liver.
     

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