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Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts Message Board › Mareks in flock

Mareks in flock

Shannon B
user 14750491
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 32
I had 16 hens. I believe all were vaccinated against Marek's but I understand that it is only about 90% effective. One of my 10 month old silkies started limping and eventually couldn't walk, was losing feathers, etc... I was guessing Marek's. I brought her to the Davis lab in San Bernadino and just got back the final report and it states "Lymphoproliferative disease, most likely Marek's".

I've read in numerous discussions how once you have Marek's it will change everything you need to do but never actually saw any talk about what those changes are. Other than not bringing in any new birds unless they have been vaccinated are there any precautions or things I should be aware of?
Roberta K.
user 10948851
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 449
I've read some on it but am still new to the concept of Marek's vaccination. I haven't vaccinated since once you vaccinate, they carry the vaccine strain and there will be a higher rate of chick deaths. I've read in random web info that Marek's is ubiquotous so chickens are likely to be exposed on a regular basis and for many things i like the idea of survival of the fittest. Then again i've only seen a chick with marek's, i'm sure if one of the girls got it now i would be so sad but i think they might be immune since has had it, they were probably exposed at some point. The chick that had it came from Ideal Poultry and had only been inside it's whole life except when shipped.

So i'm not what the changes are. If you have a chicken that survives then they can have physical problems long term such as difficulty walking, etc so would require special care. I would even say, you don't have to vaccinated new birds. It's not a must. I'm sure there are others with different opinions.
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 35
My Barnavelder, Blanche, just died a few weeks ago, and the report that came back from the same facility said Marek's. She never had paralysis or limping, but enlarged organs and weight loss. We thought she was getting better from an old infection and then one day she was breathing hard and died a few hours later.

The folks at Dare 2 Dream said it's very common among chickens and that more rare birds are less resistant to the disease. We're holding off getting new pullets until we clean the place up a bit (though it lives in the dander and therefore the soil for decades, so I'm told).

It's sad, and I'd love to find a way to insure that it won't happen again, since even vaccinations aren't 100%.

Par S.
user 37469972
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 8
We currently have one of our girls suffering from what we assumed is Marek's. Chloe, 6 month old silver phoenix, started limping from one leg about 3 weeks, we isolated her in case it was a broken bone but a few days later both legs were completely limp and paralyzed. After doing research online and the poultry blogs, it became clear it was Marek's, her legs are paralyzed in the classic Marek's pose.

We were really surprise that her condition would deteriorate so quickly. Right now she sits on a sling we made for her so she wouldn't have to be resting on the floor all the time. The saddest part is that she's completely acting normal and "healthy" aside from the paralyzed legs :(
Roberta K.
user 10948851
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 452
oo so sorry about Chloe. I hope she has some improvement. I've heard of some being able to walk again after a few months but it takes a long time for nerves to repair. The author of scratch and peck talks about Lucy and she had problems but she never got to the point that she couldn't roost. Lucy would be carried around in a basket but it is a lot of work and commitment. I'm glad the sling is helping her. If she moves her legs and toes a little in the sling she might be one of those that gains the ability to walk again. But it sounds like Lucy has sensitive feet which is common for neurologic problems in humans so probably the same as in the chickens....

Here is the link for scratch and peck. http://scratchandpeck...­

Good luck and best wishes.

Laura W.
user 44850292
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 1
Back in October, my 7 month old Barred Plymouth Rock, Penny, started limping. I promised the hubby I wouldn't take my $2.00 chick to the vet, so I made her a home in the garage, thinking she had a broken leg or maybe bumblefoot. Very soon she couldn't walk at all. I read somewhere online that a vitamin deficiency in B12 could cause leg problems. I would grind up a little of her pellets and mix them with plain yogurt, cottage cheese, some fruit or veggies, wheatgerm, flaxseed meal, B12 drops & squeeze a cod liver oil tablet, she ate the mixture out of my hands. Soon she could walk a little. I would let her outside with my other girls during the day, but kept her in the garage at night. In December when she could get around pretty well, she is very "stiff legged", I put her back in the coop. She can manage the ramp, but still does not sit on the roost at night and she has just started to lay again. She now only gets the mixture about every other day. I give it to all my girls as a treat, but now I place it on bread and they love it, my dog also loves it!! She could quite possibably have Marek's, but right now she is happy.
Winnetka F.
user 14092234
Winnetka, CA
Post #: 2
In the event you have Mareks on your property be very careful not to spread it to other flocks. It is possible to take it with you on your shoes and clothing or gloves if you visit friends with chickens. It is recommended to have shoes and gloves dedicated to working with your chickens only and change into clean clothes and shoes before going out. You may want to sanitize the bottoms of all the shoes you have worn while out with your birds. I also recommend that before you attend any chicken meetups you inform the host you have/had Mareks before going. We've spent a great deal of time to develop our breeding flock and might sadly request someone with this problem not attend a gathering to be safe.
A former member
Post #: 379
Back in October, my 7 month old Barred Plymouth Rock, Penny, started limping.

Hi Laura and welcome!

Limping can be for various reasons unrelated to Marek's. For example, in one case one side of a roosting pole was sticking out and once I added padding, limping stopped. Another case bones were weak and I added calcium. It happens. I am glad Penny is doing better.
Shannon B
user 14750491
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 34
We've spent a great deal of time to develop our breeding flock and might sadly request someone with this problem not attend a gathering to be safe.

Thank you for the information. I will certainly inform anyone before I attend an event. My understanding is that chickens that have been vaccinated shed the virus even if they never develop the disease. So wouldn't it stand that anyone with vaccinated birds should let other chicken owners know?
user 11879008
Long Beach, CA
Post #: 126
I'm so sorry for those of you who have lost chickens to Mareks.

The chicken vaccines that are used against Marek's, contain similar viruses, like HTV, a turkey herpesvirus benign to chickens. The vaccine does NOT cause them to shead Mareks, only HTV. Even some of the more recent vaccines that sometimes are a combination of HTV and gallid herpesvrius type 3, have been attenuated (altered to make to make the virus harmless) and will not cause a vaccinated chicken to shead an infectious form of Marek's Diease. It is okay to have Mareks vaccinated chickens in with unvaccinated chickens.

From what i learned at Pfizer (the vaccine manufacturer's website,) and U.C.Davis publications 5 years ago, a vaccinated chicken doesn't shed or spread the infectious form of the chicken form of Mareks. Young chicks just vaccinated need to be kept away from older chickens so the young ones can have a chance to build immunity. My understanding was the only time a vaccinated chicken is at risk of sheading Mareks is if they were actually exposed to another bird that did have Mareks. For instance, if a flock had ten Marek's vaccinated chickens and ten unvaccinated, and one of the unvaccinated chickens came down with Mareks from an outside source, like feather dander carried home on contaminated shoes from a feed store, the whole flock is now exposed and are likely carriers, symptoms or not. All unvaccinated chickens will probably succumb to Mareks eventually of varing degrees, and probably only one of the vaccinated chickens will. The vaccine provided 90% of them with enough antibodies to be able to not develop the tumors and other visible symptoms of the disease. However, all the vaccinated chickens were exposed to Mareks, and now should be assumed to be carriers of Disease. Marek's is very common and devestaing to both large and backyard flocks, and that is why a lot of poultry experts, the USDA, U.C. Davis, and most other state veternary and agricultural depts. recommend vaccination for it along with the practice of good biosecurity. A vial of the vaccine only costs $20; a trip to the vet is often ten times that and often nothing can be done by that point.

In my opinion, as a resposible poultry keeper, it is important to always be responsible for my own flock's health, but also the health of others' flocks.

I error on the side of caution and any place i go where there are other chicken owners, including at chicken meetups, I assume there is a risk of them infecting my flock or I infecting theirs with something my flock has resistance to, vaccinated or not. I think anyone attending a meet up that owns chickens already, out of courtesy and for biosecurity, should stay out of the Host's coop and run, show up in clean clothes and shoes never worn around birds, disinfect shoes anyway, and don't hold the host's chickens. (But Newbies that don't own chickens yet are okay.) And then wash those clothes before doing anything back home outside. Same goes for the feed store. I spray shoes worn there with Lysol and change clothes before emptying the car. I also strive to be similarly strict with chicken keeping guests to my backyard. Since lots of folks know I am an organic gardener and homemaker, they are shocked when I bring out the Lysol for shoes. Better safe than sorry. I know it sounds pretty paranoid, but vaccinations and strict biosecurity must be helping. In 4 1/2 years of keeping chickens, we have yet to get a infectious health issue in our flock. Knock on wood.
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