Really ugly skin lesions on a 4-week-old chick -- is this marek's?


10 Years
Feb 13, 2009
Los Gatos, CA
I have a large brooder full of chicks at 4 weeks old and only noticed this poor guy today because he was getting picked on. He's got huge lesions all over him, mostly on his face, but also on his feet and his chest:





The lesions that are bloody or scabbed (dark) are probably that way because other chicks have been picking at them. They are hard to the touch and don't seem to hurt him. He does not seem to be having any trouble eating or drinking, although he may be a touch more lethargic than his coop-mates.

I cannot find any reference to anything like this from googling poultry diseases. The pictures I've seen of avian pox don't look like this. I have found references to skin "leucosis" with Marek's disease, however. I can't find of a definition of what leucosis actually means. So I'm here to ask for all of your opinions: is this Marek's?

The birds were not Marek's vaccinated. I'm also really concerned about that greyish eye.

On the other hand: they are only four weeks old. I was under the impression that Marek's does not come on until 12 weeks or later.

None of my other birds are showing any symptoms at all but if I need to cull this boy I'd like to know as soon as possible. Or of course if you know what this is I'd prefer to know how to treat it.

Thanks in advance. -Laura


Pantry Brook Farm
10 Years
Jun 13, 2009
I don't know:/ But I hope posting will bump this for you and someone can help you out! Good luck !


11 Years
Sep 10, 2008
Lakeland, FL
Marek's is usually an internal disease. Those lesions look like fowl pox. It's transmitted by mosquitoes and usually isn't fatal.


10 Years
Mar 7, 2009
Round Rock
That's a bad case of fowl pox. It's not dangerous, and the chick will be over it in a couple weeks. They'll all get it since they've all been exposed to this one, so don't be alarmed if you see the rest of them popping out with lesions. Keep them cozy and unstressed and they'll be fine.

Here's a pic of my bantam when she was in the thick of fowl pox. Poor little thing, she looked so sad! She didn't feel well so I babied her a lot, but she wasn't in any danger. Her poor eye was all swollen and bubbly so all 3 of mine got a precautionary course of antibiotics in their water to forestall a possible secondary infection.


Knight Hawk Ranch

14 Years
Oct 19, 2007
Labelle, Florida
I have lost a few to fowl pox. I have had a couple that got pretty bad before I knew what it was and ended up losing them. Now, I might lose them if the other chicks pick to much.

I have found that if I add antibiotic and vitamins to the water for a few days, they seam to get over it much quicker.

I am in SW Fla, so lots of mosqitoes and no way to keep them off the chickens.


10 Years
Feb 13, 2009
Los Gatos, CA
Bumping this topic.

I lost this little chick overnight because the cage I had him isolated in was not raccoon-poof (bad lesson to learn), but I had been meaning to post an update about him.

It's been about three weeks since I posted, and if four weeks is supposed to be the course of this disease then something went badly wrong -- my poor chick didn't get better, he got much, much worse. Every single lesion he had that I look a photograph of earlier tripled in size and has been bubbly and thick and black with scabs. His whole head was totally swollen up and his eyes were misshapen and deformed with sores. I finally isolated him last week and I've been giving him antibiotics and vitamins, but he was not improving. He was still eating and drinking, but not gaining any weight, and just standing around peeping even when I put him out in the yard with his coop-mates. I had been planning to euthanize him in the next few days but the raccoon got to him first.

None of the other chickens in the pen with him -- 30 of them -- ever showed any signs or symptoms of this. He was the only one. He's been completely deteriorating since the day I spotted the lesions. I should not have waited this long to euthanize him; I feel like I let him suffer longer than I should have because I kept expecting him to get better. I've never seen anything like it, it was horrible, and I'm really upset. Honestly, if I get these symptoms in a chick in the future I'm just going to euthanize them early.



11 Years
Jan 19, 2009

I am so sorry for your loss. I never had this happen so I don't know what you went though, I am really sorry!


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