Rooster balance problems - how big is the chance of Marek's?

5GodsDown

Songster
Apr 1, 2019
115
171
106
Belgium
Does anyone know if a bloodtest while alive can give trustworthy results on Marek or really only a necropsy? I can't seem to find the exact answer.
 

boskelli1571

Crowing
8 Years
Mar 7, 2011
3,427
1,104
361
Finger Lakes, NY
Does anyone know if a bloodtest while alive can give trustworthy results on Marek or really only a necropsy? I can't seem to find the exact answer.
My understanding is that there is a blood test for Mareks to determine if birds are carriers. I see you are in Belgium, I assume it would be available there.
Ask either the local vet or the nearest Vet. college/university.
 

5GodsDown

Songster
Apr 1, 2019
115
171
106
Belgium
My understanding is that there is a blood test for Mareks to determine if birds are carriers. I see you are in Belgium, I assume it would be available there.
Ask either the local vet or the nearest Vet. college/university.
Strange that the vet didn't offer to take blood. I did give a stool sample, but I do that every few months (I know that doesn't detect Mareks, but for the slight chance he's suffering from coccidiosis or parasites...). I will ask her tonight when I go pick up the vitamins he was prescribed. I'm starting to think it really is Mareks. I've separated him from the chickens with a bit of wire so they can still be close to each other but he can eat alone. He still eats though. His gizzard had a small handful of food in it when I gave him his painkiller when I came back from work yesterday. I've read a severe vitamin deficiency can also give the same symptoms, so we'll see how he reacts to the vitamins, but there's almost no doubt left if he doesn't get better...
 

boskelli1571

Crowing
8 Years
Mar 7, 2011
3,427
1,104
361
Finger Lakes, NY
Strange that the vet didn't offer to take blood. I did give a stool sample, but I do that every few months (I know that doesn't detect Mareks, but for the slight chance he's suffering from coccidiosis or parasites...). I will ask her tonight when I go pick up the vitamins he was prescribed. I'm starting to think it really is Mareks. I've separated him from the chickens with a bit of wire so they can still be close to each other but he can eat alone. He still eats though. His gizzard had a small handful of food in it when I gave him his painkiller when I came back from work yesterday. I've read a severe vitamin deficiency can also give the same symptoms, so we'll see how he reacts to the vitamins, but there's almost no doubt left if he doesn't get better...
As I said, if it turns out to be Mareks he may live for a good time yet. He will need to be watched carefully to make sure he eats and drinks ok and others don't peck at him.
My Mareks hen has lived one year since her diagnosis and shows no sign of giving up yet :)
 

5GodsDown

Songster
Apr 1, 2019
115
171
106
Belgium
As I said, if it turns out to be Mareks he may live for a good time yet. He will need to be watched carefully to make sure he eats and drinks ok and others don't peck at him.
My Mareks hen has lived one year since her diagnosis and shows no sign of giving up yet :)
That doesn't sound bad. How is she doing? Can she walk normally? Does your hen have the Mareks form that attacks the nerves? I mean, I can't let Phill live the way he does now, he can barely take 3 steps. He is extremely selfless and seems to want to do nothing else than protect his ladies and if he can't do anything but stand or lie down in one spot all day... okay for 1-2 weeks of needed rest, but not his entire life :( I have tried to give him some mashed boiled egg, but he just refuses to eat it unless the hens are eating from it too. The hens leave him alone, although they were pushing against the wire I put between them.

One moment I'm full of hope he will recover and the other moment I'm almost in tears because I realize I might have to let him go. It doesn't help I have long working days and I can only check how he's walking and eating in the morning. In the evening it's dark and I can only check if he's alive.
 

Eggcessive

Enabler
Premium member
8 Years
Apr 3, 2011
48,557
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southern Ohio
Most literature says that the most accurate testing is testing tumor tissue and feather shafts with a PCR test, done after death. There are labs around the world that may test a single feather shaft, so it is possible that there are newer tests available. Any test can have a false negative reading giving false hope, so money may be better spent doing testing with a necropsy after death.

Mareks have 4 types of symptoms—tumors on skin, on nerves, in organs, and on nerves in the eyes. Some chickens only have one of those, while others have more. During a necropsy, these tumors along the sciatic nerves if there is leg paralysis or numbness, or any spotted tumors on internal organs, may be cultured and tested by PCR test which to my limited knowledge involves DNA testing.

I would probably try to contact your nearest poultry lab in Belgium or Europe and ask what might be available. It also is good to research how and where to get a necropsy if he dies, since that would involve keeping his body cool, not frozen, and delivered to the poultry lab as soon as possible.

Chickens do not always die of Mareks, some may survive, but may have a need for supportive care for the rest of their lives. @rebracora is a BYC member familiar with Mareks in her own flock who lives in England, and she might know more about where to find testing if you send her a PM.
 

boskelli1571

Crowing
8 Years
Mar 7, 2011
3,427
1,104
361
Finger Lakes, NY
That doesn't sound bad. How is she doing? Can she walk normally? Does your hen have the Mareks form that attacks the nerves? I mean, I can't let Phill live the way he does now, he can barely take 3 steps. He is extremely selfless and seems to want to do nothing else than protect his ladies and if he can't do anything but stand or lie down in one spot all day... okay for 1-2 weeks of needed rest, but not his entire life :( I have tried to give him some mashed boiled egg, but he just refuses to eat it unless the hens are eating from it too. The hens leave him alone, although they were pushing against the wire I put between them.

One moment I'm full of hope he will recover and the other moment I'm almost in tears because I realize I might have to let him go. It doesn't help I have long working days and I can only check how he's walking and eating in the morning. In the evening it's dark and I can only check if he's alive.
My he was one of 10 chicks I bought - 8 died from Mareks. I did not think she would survive b/c she had trouble with walking and balance. She was so skinny too. I fed her a high protein (20%) mash with vitamin water added along with some dried oregano mixed in.
It took a long time but she put on a bit of weight and she can walk although very pigeon toed, her balance is still a bit off but she uses her wings to balance. She will fly up to around 3ft. off the ground to perch and can balance well enough when perching.
She lays eggs just fine and is now going through her first molt, poor thing, but she is bright and alert and always comes to see me when I enter the barn.
Sending positive thoughts your way, hope Phil turns it around soon.
 

5GodsDown

Songster
Apr 1, 2019
115
171
106
Belgium
Most literature says that the most accurate testing is testing tumor tissue and feather shafts with a PCR test, done after death. There are labs around the world that may test a single feather shaft, so it is possible that there are newer tests available. Any test can have a false negative reading giving false hope, so money may be better spent doing testing with a necropsy after death.

Mareks have 4 types of symptoms—tumors on skin, on nerves, in organs, and on nerves in the eyes. Some chickens only have one of those, while others have more. During a necropsy, these tumors along the sciatic nerves if there is leg paralysis or numbness, or any spotted tumors on internal organs, may be cultured and tested by PCR test which to my limited knowledge involves DNA testing.

I would probably try to contact your nearest poultry lab in Belgium or Europe and ask what might be available. It also is good to research how and where to get a necropsy if he dies, since that would involve keeping his body cool, not frozen, and delivered to the poultry lab as soon as possible.

Chickens do not always die of Mareks, some may survive, but may have a need for supportive care for the rest of their lives. @rebracora is a BYC member familiar with Mareks in her own flock who lives in England, and she might know more about where to find testing if you send her a PM.
Thank you for the info. I was indeed planning to ask about necropsy possibilities through my vet when I pick up the vitamins tonight, they're close and can probably properly ship him to a lab if necessary. We have a poultry clinic an hour away if needed, I'll try to find out what they use.
 
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