velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)July 18, 2009

I've had a heartbreaking outbreak of Marek's in my flock. I've lost 7 young adult hens since March, with 5 of those being in the last 4 weeks--two died this week alone. They all went from being in peak health to dead in 3-4 days, despite all I could do and isolating them immediately.

Anyone else having a Marek's problem right now? I'm wondering if it's a really bad year for it...I've never lost any birds to it in the past. As far as I can tell the disease vector was the youngster wild bird population that hangs out in the yard.

I'm worried for my other young hens who are in the high-risk category, 13 in all. All of the 7 who have died were in the high-risk group. None of the older chickens have shown any symptoms at all.

I know that Marek's is pretty common. This is SO frustrating and sad, I wish I could have done something for these girls. :(

Velvet ~:>

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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

Oh Velvet, I am so sorry to hear of your losses, that is quite a blow. The weird thing is I am suspecting that I may have the same problem as you but I am in the early stages of trying to figure it out.

All the research I have found shows no treatment at all which is very frustrating. So far I have one 2 month old welsumer that I lost this week after being ill for about 5 days. She was fluffed up and thin and gaping so we separated her and treated her for cocci, sadly she died leaving me wondering what the heck it was that killed her. Now I have another pullet EE, that cannot use her right leg, she's limping around and gaping a little so now I am suspecting Marek's. I had a total of 14, 2 month old pullets, now I am wondering how many will be affected. The weather here in NE has been extremely wet and rainy, I'm wondering if that might make conditions worse for this virus. If it is Marek's I too would suspect wild birds as being the carriers.

Again I'm so sorry to hear of your losses, it really is such a horrible disease.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 7:07PM
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Oh Man, I just hate to hear sad news like this. I'm so sorry for both your losses. It's amazing how attached you get to these silly birds, isn't it? I hope you can both put a halt to this sickness and save the rest of your flocks. Kathy

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 9:56PM
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Wow, I am so sorry to hear about that, Velvet. It is always hard to lose our critters. When I ordered my chicks, there was an option to get them vaccinated for Marek's. It went on to say that while it was always a possibility, backyard flocks generally didn't need the vaccination so I didn't get it. I think it was something like $2 a bird or so. Would you recommend this after your experience? Lori

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 12:21AM
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Poor dears! How sad! I had my chicks vaccinated for marek's and coccidiosis. there are medicated feeds available. I would check if it's not too late to get some for the rest that still appear healthy. I almost did not vaccinate, and would not have opted for medicated feed, either. I hate "medication". I'm sorry for your losses, as I'm sure you love your birds as I mine. There seems to be more birds around this year in general, babies everywhere, and more than one brood per nest.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 1:06AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Well, I posted too soon--seems it WASN'T Marek's, but Fowl Cholera! My last girl to go finally showed some symptoms that really nailed it down. Turns out Fowl Cholera can live up to a month in droppings and two or three months in soil. I've heard from so many people this Spring with dying birds with similar symptoms: first the chicken is a bit lame, then gets droopy & lethargic, then more lame or fully lame, then it stops eating & drinking, then bam--dead. All in the space of about 3 days.

I've never seen such a bad year as this for poultry illnesses, and it was driving me crazy trying to figure it out. They'd go so swiftly that any meds I tried just didn't have a chance to work.

I'm going to switch my way to thinking and give my birds medicated feed every Spring from now on. We have a real problem with tons of wild birds, cats and possums around here and they ALL seem to meet in my back yard.

If anyone needs help diagnosing common poultry diseases, MSU has a great aid here:

I'm in the process of sterilizing my coop, roosts & nests to try and stop my problems, and am getting some Oxine (AH) solution to use as a spray to kill any bacteria/molds/viruses in the coop and in the birds. I've done some research on the use of Oxine (AH) and I'm convinced it's the way to go--you can even fog the birds with it and breathe it yourself, and you can put it in the birds' water. It's supposed to knock down molds, bacteria and some viruses. If you want to read more about it, here is what Shagbark Bantams has to say:

She recommends NOT using the activator crystals, if you do you can't fog the birds with it or breathe it. I'm going to get some and try it, I'll report my findings here. From now on I'm going at biosecurity hammer & tongs!

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 8:54AM
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Oh I'm sorry to hear about your birds Velvet.

The good thing is you now know exactly what it is and can take the appropriate action. How many birds in total do you have? Too bad you couldn't remove the birds & use some hard-core disinfectant (thinking bleach or alcohol here). I hope the rest of your flock will be ok.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 9:31PM
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I ask some animal vet friends, they say there isn't much that can be done if it is an advanced case, they recommend prevention medications (vacs). Last year a 4-H member brought a sick Serama Roo(turned out to be Marek's and coccidiosis) to me to see if there was something that could be done. Started feeding mash fortified with yogurt/vits/minerals and lots of extra carbs in the form of sugars. The little guy's weight was about 1/4 of what it should have been. He was isolated in a heated cage(95F)-with his weight so low it was hard for his body to generate enough heat to keep his muscles from cramping and becoming to stiff to move. Luck being on our side he recovered but it took 2 months.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 12:35PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Wow, Seramas, good for you for pulling him through! :)

brendasue, I'd have no trouble removing the birds for a day to disinfect the coop, but the nice part about the Oxine is that I won't have to. :) The only hitch is that I can't seem to find it locally, I'm going to have to order it online and it'll take time to get here. So far no more chickens are sick, so hopefully it's done with.

We now have 34 chickens, the number we keep tends to hover between 20 and 35 or so. I have a lot of older ladies right now, and as they go I'm not planning on replacing them, but I do have several breeds I'd like to have running around for eye candy--Seramas, Giant Cochins, Brahmas, New Hampshires, Belgian d'Anvers, Salmon Favorelles and Porcelain d'Uccles. I'll have to see how it goes, if I can find them, I'm going to buy some eggs online once our 100+ degree heat wave ends.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 2:25PM
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Velvet, so sorry to hear about your girls.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 11:53AM
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