Marek's Disease

Common poultry diseases and conditions, advice on what they are and how to treat them.
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Mitsy
Chick
Chick
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:50 am
Location: Oamaru

Marek's Disease

Post by Mitsy »

I have a question about Marek's disease - is it always best to cull as soon as you see symptoms of this, or is recovery possible? I have read conflicting things about this, on this forum and elsewhere.

Last season was the first time I saw what I suspected to be the neurological form of Marek's: I had 1 chick that progressively became paralysed in one leg, over a period of weeks. As she appeared to keep getting worse rather than better, at about 10 weeks old she was culled. She was kept in amongst all my other poultry, and none showed any symptoms.

This season I have another couple of batches of chicks, and lo and behold I have another female with the same symptoms. She seems happy enough, but she also has this quite slowly progressing paralysis. In addition to this, yesterday I found one of last years' batch of pullets in the nest box in distress, turned out she had one side paralysed and gasping in shock, she was very bad so promptly culled.

So, my question is: should I continue hoping for recovery in my chick (approx 8 weeks old, first noticed symptoms about 2 weeks ago), or is this unrealistic? I guess this disease is now everywhere in my yard so will culling her help prevent spread, or not?

Thank you for your help!
Marina
Emu
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Joined: Wed May 11, 2011 10:16 pm
Location: Canterbury

Re: Marek's Disease

Post by Marina »

Hi Mitsy,

sorry to hear about this. It's such a devastating disease.

I cull promptly. When they are sick they shed mega amounts of virus which persist in the environment for a long time.

However, there are people who have persisted with treatment (Remdesivir as an antiviral), had the chook in a hammock for several months and I know of one who has come right. Remdesivir is a prescription only drug so it involves vet visits, hundreds of hours of work and an uncertain outcome.

I breed from my birds and aspire to have birds with a strong immune system who are naturally resistant to Mareks disease. When I was new to poultry and had my first cases I tried to keep them alive as I had read that in days gone by it was called Range Paralysis and had an 80% recovery rate without treatment but the virus has become more virulent and I have never had a chook who recovered all by itself. The most mine got was force feeding and mega amounts of a vitamin and mineral supplement. It never helped. I now cull.
Mitsy
Chick
Chick
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:50 am
Location: Oamaru

Re: Marek's Disease

Post by Mitsy »

Thank you Marina for your advice. I culled the chick this morning. I only had two pullets from this batch so am now down to one, I really hope she will be okay! Of course there were plenty of roosters.....
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