So, Vet says its Mareks. Now what do we do?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Prairie Chicks, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. Prairie Chicks

    Prairie Chicks New Egg

    Oct 24, 2009
    Ok, we raise and sell chicks on a small scale. I have in the past raised birds through the winter to sell in the spring, when everyone is so 'hen hungry'. One of my long time customers just had a test come back from one of this years babies as positive for Mareks. I currently have a hen whose legs are suddenly not working, She is seperated in a small cage, I thought she may have eaten something toxic or been injured, but she just lays there, eating and drinking. Our chicks are all hatchery, and I have always paid the extra 10 cents for vaccinations.

    Now, I have researched this, and learned the basics.
    Mareks is a Herpes type virus, present the world over. It is common, and can be spread by wild birds, and domestic. I have learned the symptoms, and know the proventions.

    Now, my question is "What do we do now!" I am not willing to cull my birds. I have about 150 birds ranging from 7 years old to 36 hours old. I have everything from RIR's to Silkies, and most are named and my companions.

    We do sell eggs as well.

    Does all of this have to stop now?
  2. Prairie Chicks

    Prairie Chicks New Egg

    Oct 24, 2009
    Nobody huh?

    Is my suspicion correct then, that more people have this problem than like to admit?

    If it really is so easily transmissible, it seems everyone would have it?
  3. Hoosiermomma

    Hoosiermomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 6, 2009
    S.E Ind
    Try doing a search on here for Marek's. I'm sure you'll find what you're looking for while waiting for someone to reply. Good luck with your birds....[​IMG]
  4. Germaine_11.20

    Germaine_11.20 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 6, 2009
    Wow, I don't know. I'm sorry this is happening to you. I will be watching to learn more about it.
  5. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida

    I'm sorry you're facing this problem. But give folks time to answer your questions. You'll find there's a lot of traffic on this site & it's easy for a post to get lost in the crowd. In the meantime, use the search feature to read previously posted information. If you find a member who seems to have a lot of knowledge try sending them a PM or email.

    Chicken diseases is an area I'm the least knowledgable about. But I don't think you'd have to cull your entire flock because one chick you sold had Marek's. If it's as common as prevalant as you say, perhaps it's possible that chick caught it from another source after it was sold.

    And I am puzzled why a bird vaccinated for Marek's would still catch it. Are there different varieties of this virus that the vaccination doesn't prevent?

    [​IMG] I'm sorry I don't know, but wish you success in searching for your answers!
  6. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

    Aug 25, 2008
    Quote:I honestly don't know about it, but you weren't being ignored. Sometimes the frivolous posts push true emergencies to the back pages, but many of us will go look there to see if we can help with something.

    Do any of your sold birds ever come back to you? Do you ever buy chickens from any source besides the hatchery?

    Much as I hate to drag in any officials, it might be a good idea to contact a veterinary school or the state vet.
  7. Prairie Chicks

    Prairie Chicks New Egg

    Oct 24, 2009
    Thank you to those who answered. I dont know that I have mareks here yet or not, as it is like rabies, and can only be tested for during a necropsy.

    Yes, it is possible that the customers bird got it from somewhere else, anything is likely, but the fact that I now have a young hen who suddenly cant use her legs, which is the most common presentation of the disease, well, I am a realist.

    We have the state vet out every year for the NPIP, but I admit that I do not maintain a closed flock. We like to go to shows and buy birds.... (I know I am a chicken aholic, and worse, my husband is too) BUT, NPIP does not check or even look for Mareks.

    I just dont know now, how to proceed. We have always raised and sold birds to pay for our addiction. If I cant sell the chicks I have now, I am in DEEP chicken poo. I have over 300 chicks growing in 6 brooders! They are all in a seperate building, and over 700 feet from my own personal coops, but some of my hens free range that far, and I wear my shoes from here to there.

    Heavy sigh.

    I have also learned that 10% of chicks vaccinated for Mareks still get the disease. It is not a gaurantee, just like sexing isnt always perfect. It just raises your odds of not getting the disease. Like medicated food and Coccidiosis. Your birds always have it, its just a matter of degree.

    I guess I would just like to hear from some one who has been in my particular situation, what have they done?
  8. Megs

    Megs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2009
    from my reading the vaccine is not effective unless properly quarantined/administered, which to me seems a clean room that you scrub up before going in to is neccesary, because if you bring dander/poo from a carrier (that is how it is transferred) near the vaccinated chicks less than 10 days old, they can still get it rendering the vaccine useless!
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009
  9. emrldgrn1

    emrldgrn1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 11, 2009
    Vass, NC
    I just recieved my second letter back from the state laberatory on my second set of necropsys i had done on three, four month old Araucana chicks. They were lingering and dieing after about a week long illness and swollen conjucta. No discharge, sneezing, coughing, altered droppings...nothing that would clue me into the problem. I was treating for everything under the sun that was suggested. Turns out my necropsies came back as a strain of avian flu that only affects birds in that age range. I had only about a 30% morbidity but of that 30% a 100% mortality. Lab results say common, not carriers, and wont transmit or shed except during illness. I have one sick chick left and it is in confinement. Once she is well or gone I wont have to worry about it again. Doubt she will live but she is comfortable and still eating and drinking on her own. No help on your Maricks question but i have to say i sure gained ALOT of peace of mind from having the necropsies done and knowing for sure what i had in my flock.

    Sending good wishes and high hopes your way.
  10. spartacus_63

    spartacus_63 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 21, 2009
    Central Iowa
    My limited experience with animals, especially chickens, and viral issues tells me that you need not panic yet. Merek's is highly contagious, but if your flock has been inoculated, they should be OK. Although they may become carriers of the virus and pass it on to other birds. Keep in mind that Merek's is mostly an issue for young birds. Older birds build up an immunity as they age. This is not to say they won't get infected, it just means they will not show symptoms. Most folks do not keep birds long enough for the symptoms to show in older birds.

    You need not worry about your eggs as Merek's is not passed on to the young genetically.

    If you have Merek's, the only way to get rid of it is to cull the flock and sanitize the entire area...not just the coop. The Mereks virus can live for 62 weeks without a host. Although it does not tolerate freezing and thawing. So if you live in an area that gets good cold winters, that would help.

    I would have a hard time culling my flock and I sympathize with you. If you can not cull the crippled bird, I reccommend you put it into quarentine so as not to risk further contamination.

    I also visit shows and sales, I keep all new birds quarantined for six weeks at least before I introduce them into the population. I have had new birds get sick and if it is a contagious strain, I cull them for the sake of the flock.

    Good luck

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