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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 3:37 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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Who has had any experience with Mareks Disease? How long was the chicken lame for before dying or being put down? Did the lameness spread from one leg to another or only remained in the one leg? Have any chickens recovered from the disease? I suspect my Belgian Bantam has the disease and my OEG has just contracted it and how they contracted it I will never know. They have all been running together for 3 months with no problems and are 6-7 mths old and came from different reputable breeders. I am fanatical about hygiene and they all free range during the day. The Belgian hen started with a lame leg and that was cold and now the other leg is either weak, as she has lost weight, or she has the disease in that leg as well however she can move this leg but can't balance. She has had it for 3 weeks and I'm currently nursing her, hoping she might come good. Apart from that she is bright, eating and drinking and flapping her wings. I live in a remote area and contracting a viral disease would be very unfortunate. The OEG rooster who started to lose his balance the other day is much the same and has a droopey crop and depressed eyes and obviously not crowing, not that he ever did much anyway, apart from that he is being a normal chicken.

Any help or ideas will be appreciated.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 7:31 pm 
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Golden Magpie
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Hi
Mareks is a terrible disease and no they dont get better if it is truely mareks disease. Itsa cancer cauing disease and the tumours only get bigger.

It has been discussed and analysed many times over on here with heaps of information at many levels. I think that if you do a search using the search function you will find enough reading to become an expert :roll: Use mareks as the keyword.

After three weeks I would expect that either the disease is quite pronounced or that this is not mareks. Pullets and cockerels have a growth spurt at about the age yours are. It does often outstrip their body reserves and they develop a vitamin deficiancy that causes an apparant lose of the use of the limbs. This is particularly the case if they havn't been having grower crumbles as at least 80% of their diet. You can try soluable avian vitamins (from a pet or produce store) and bumps up their protein level along with the essential fats and oils. Canned cat food is very good for this.

Mike

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 12:36 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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Thanks Mike. The hen is still very bright and cherps only problem is that her limbs won't work. The rooster is wonky and has a slack wing and doey, apart from that he still pecks about the place. All the chickens have been on grower crumble, wheat and sunflower seeds since 6wks old and I only changed them to layer pellets, bit of wheat and bit of sunflower seed 3 weeks ago because everywhere that I have read says that chickens should be on layer pellets by 6mths of age, which mine are. Should I have kept them on the grower crumble for longer? A couple of the hens have just started laying.

I would have thought if the hen had Mareks she would be on death bed by now if not already dead because she is coming up to week 4 of her lameness.

Thanks

Jo


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:16 pm 
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Yes i would have thought so too if it was mareks .

Understanding any cancer growth is important. It starts off as a single cell which splits into two cells. Those two cells split onto four cancer cells and thos four split into eight cells then sixteen, then thirty two and so on and on - all this takes several months but by the the time we notice symptoms the lump is already quite large - in mareks with paralysis, its the sciatic nerve that has the growth on it and the lump destroys the nerve.

Once the lump has destroyed the nerve it doesn't stop growing and it doubles in size everytime it splits - its called mitosis and is binary fission. Now after three weeks of not getting worse makes me very suspicious that what you have is not mareks but vitamin deficieny and nutrient deficiency. Hence the suggestion for vitamins and canned cat food for the affected chooks.

Should you have kept them on grower crumbles ? No not necessarily at that age ? As long as 80% of their total feed intake was a balanced food such as layer pellets or grower. Its the treats being higher than 20% of the tol intake that is often the cause of dietary problems.

Mike

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:57 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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My 'to be' local show prize winning blue Belgian Bantam hen died last night. The poor little thing wouldn't eat so I have arranged for her body to be sent to the District Survillence for an autopsy to determine what killed her. Hopefully it isn't Mareks and I can save the OEG rooster. I never imagined I would be attached to chickens!

Jo


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 1:20 pm 
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Jo

Thats sad and I am sorry. Let us know what the district vet says. I try to encourage more people to use that sort of service. Not only is it free but it has the resources of laboratory testing that is hugely expensive through the private veterinary system. Its their job to examine unexplained stock losses.

Basck on topic - mareks is almost to the point of being endemic these days. Its a more a flock management problem now and a loss of a bird or a couple of birds to mareks is frustrating but you can overome it. Often you dont see it again for five to ten years.

Mike

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:19 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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Hi Mike

You seem to know what you are talking about so I'm going to ask another question after I have a sob over losing 3 of my bantams this week. I had to have my OEG rooster (Rhett) put down yesterday because he has the Mareks symptoms and I couldn't bear to see the little fellow go through what the poor little hen went through. I didn't send him to district survellience I couldn't bear the thought of having him carved up. I was in town last night and today and when I got home my husband tells me that my little Pekin rooster also died, but not of Mareks like disease, something else which I hope you might be able to shed some light on.

A couple of months ago, Bruno, stopped crowing, become very lethargic and his comb shrunk and went a pale colour. I checked him for lice, which he had so I delouced him and he started being more lively again but didn't start crowing. He ate well and moved around with the others, the only difference was his appearance and lack of mojo. Before I delouced himl he would sit in the garden with his tail down and close his eyes while the other 2 fosicked about. After his deloucing he was back to normal except no mojo, crowing or aggressive rooster behaviour because he was the dominant one when they were younger. I wormed and delouced again last week and he started to crow in the morning for a couple of days, would become aggressive to the other Pekin but still pale shrunken comb. 3 days ago I crutched him and he went down hill again and obviously never recovered because he died today. I thought he might be anemic (?). There were no other obvious signs except that he often has very watery faeces even after worming and deloucing. He was in good order except he lost a bit weight when he was lethargic as would be expected.

Can you shed any light on his problem? If it happened before I left yesterday I would have taken him to town to be sent to District Survellience as well. It is the only way I'm going to find out what is wrong with my chickens when they die.

Another quick question. I need to disinfect my Belgian and OEG's house and I don't have any where else to house them so the house can be rested. I bought some industrial bleach today and intend to mix it 50/50 with water and scrub and spray the house and then mix 200ml to 5ltr of water and spread over the dirt floor and then put fresh dirt ( alot of it) over the top of the current dirt. The house needs topping up with dirt. Will this eradicate any virus or disease that might be in the bird house and killing my chickens? The chickens live with a Major Mitchell Cockatoo, and the chickens have been with him since early March with no problems, who has been there for 20 years or so and he hasn't had any contact with wild birds so I assume he isn't spreading any of these diseases? I hope not.....

Any advice or help will be grately appreciated. What a week!!

Thanks

Jo


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 1:30 pm 
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Golden Magpie
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Jo

I was out most of yesterday and at dinner and a meetings until late last night. Its the same again today and all day tomorrow I am away all day as well.

I am sorry I havn't answered your questions - If no one else does by sunday I will answer them then. However - there is an old saying "when you have stock, you also have losses. The occasional unexplained death happens but when you have a series of unexplained deaths then it really is a job for the district vet. Thats their role - disease surveillance. Dont think about it in terms of whats happening to your pet chooks body, think about it in terms of preventing your other chooks becoming ill and dying.

Mike

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 11:36 am 
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Hi Cherpies,

You've lost a few this week. That's hard. You don't say how old the sick birds were. The lame bird who appeared healthy apart from the lameness sounds very typical of marek's disease, but your testing results will shed more light on that I hope. In case it is Marek's I'll post some info about that below.

On lice infestations, they are always worse in cases where the birds are sick for other reasons, broody, or can't dust bathe in a normal way. My suspicion is that Bruno's severe infestation was a result of his health. It's not always the case, but if often is. His pale and shrunken comb tells you that something was wrong. It could have been many different things including various infections. You say he had some diarrhea - perhaps that indicates some type of bacterial infection of the digestive system, but it's impossible to say. Had he been wormed? Another disease that can produce wasting and decline is leucosis, but you would need a pm to have any real idea. We'd need more information about your birds to have a better guess, but even then it would be just that - a guess.

If you have something infectious go through the flock, a cleanout is a good idea. I would remove all litter and droppings and give everything a good scrub. Then I like to rest a sick pen for a few weeks before putting birds back in if that's possible. Most respiratory viruses don't live long outside the host. Those that do cannot usually be destroyed by bleach. You don't want a sterile environment. That's not healthy either. If you are cleaning out water containers with bleach then make sure that you rinse very, very well. There's a small amount of chlorine in our drinking water which doesn't hurt us, but rinsing well when using it keeps it down to a minimal level. I wouldn't advise bleaching the whole run. Bleaching everything in sight will just favour some organisms over others and cause more issues - but that's Mike's favourite lecture so he can expand on that one. :wink:

The reality is that chickens usually get illnesses from other chickens. Direct contact is the most common method of transfer. Some viruses such as marek's disease are airborne and can move over distances from one property to another in dust particles. Some diseases of chickens are also carried by wild birds which is why some people choose to net off their runs. You will never create an environment which is completely pathogen-free. Birds get acclimatised to their own environment. After exposure, they develop an immune response and learn to deal with it. When disease seems to spring from nowhere it is often latent infection that break out in response to stress of some kind. Sometimes birds that appear healthy can be carrying disease.

If I were you, I would do a big clean out and scrub out. Then I'd review the feeding and housing conditions and see if they are all working. Avoid mixing young growing birds with older birds and feed everything on good quality balanced rations appropriate to the job they are doing.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 11:53 am 
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Information on Marek's Disease in case it is relevant.

Marek's disease is caused by a virus from the herpes family of viruses.

It can be spread by direct contact, but is more often caught when chicks breathe in infectious feather dust particles.

Mareks is endemic. Assume it's on your property if you have chickens. It's pointless to try and eradicate it. We've all got it.

Chicks get exposed when very young. They recover from the initial infection and you may not even notice symptoms. Later in life - usually between 12 & 24 weeks - some (not all) birds will show symptoms of paralysis that arise from tumours that have developed on the nerves. This is the most common type of marek's seen in backyards. In typical backyard populations the tumours and the paralysis will only affect a few birds as the rest will probably be resistant.

Mareks can look different to that mentioned above. In rarer cases it can be more virulent and strike hard and kill a lot. Tumours can develop in any part of the body eg. eyes, skin etc. Experiences like these are the exception rather than the rule.

There are two approaches that people take after doing their own research on it. Some choose to live with the losses and breed from healthy looking survivor birds and in so doing improve the health of the flock. Others choose to vaccinate their offspring prior to exposure (day old) and avoid disease to some degree. Vaccination can be difficult due to availability of vaccines. Either way, marek's disease is something that chicken breeders live with. You can't eradicate it with any type of cleaner.

For more information on marek's and some pictures, go here: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=7983206

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:44 pm 
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What did you worm them with? All wormers do roundworm but not all do tapeworm, which can be fatal to chooks. I didn't know this until I almost lost a rooster to tapeworm - the vet accurately diagnosed the issue and gave him a pill and presto! - he'd started improving within hours. He was horribly pale and wan and I fed him mince as soon as he started eating again.

Look out for wormers with the word "plus" in their name, as they treat tapeworm as well as all the others.

One can also use the drop-on-back-of-neck dog flea treatments, as they treat some worms in addition to the bloodsucking parasites. It's an off-label use for poultry, and you do need to work out how much to use of the type you buy - there's some threads around on working it out.

Again, I almost lost a sitting broody hen to anaemia caused by a massive red mite infestation. She abandoned the eggs but I got her in time, dusted with Pestene, and fed her on pure mince for a couple of days. Worked wonders. Her comb stopped being the same colour as her (pale lavender) feathers ...


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:18 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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The Pekin rooster was delouced with Pesterne and wormed with Avitrol (the gunky yellow paste wormer) a week before he died. As I say after I treated him he was full of energy for a week then went lethargic for 3 days last week and died while I was away. I think he needed anitbiotics for something going on in his gut, but I don't have any and would love it if someone could tell me the name of a general chicken anitbiotic.

Jo


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:30 am 
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cherpies wrote:
I think he needed anitbiotics for something going on in his gut, but I don't have any and would love it if someone could tell me the name of a general chicken anitbiotic.


Hi Jo,

Antibiotics only fight bacterial infections, not viruses or fungi etc. Also, specific antibiotics are required for the pathogen that is the problem. Consequently, there is no guarantee when giving any antibiotic to chickens. As specific testing is expensive, vets tends to prescribe the most likely antibiotic and then monitor and change it as necessary.

Antibiotics are restricted and almost all of them need to be prescribed by a qualified professional. There are a few older products available over the counter at produce stores. These would include some sulphonamides and tetracyclines. These produce store variety medications are often ones to which there is widespread resistance and there are not often very effective. Sometimes the cost makes that impossible and I understand that people try whatever treatments they have access to, but the reality is that they are not the best ones.

Overuse or inappropriate use of antibiotics is a bad idea as well as upsetting the natural digestive flora can be harmful to the bird. There's also the issue of contributing to further resistance development. The commercial poultry industry is very quick to put antibiotics in the feed and has caused a lot of problems as a result.

There's nothing really at a produce store that would be very effective for treating gastrointestinal infections. You could try a sulphonamide-based product but it may not work. Most of what's available at those outlets would be the less effective products that are used for respiratory infections.

I think chicken keepers are better off putting efforts into feeding their birds the best quality food and taking careful note of their animal husbandry practices. You will always get losses in flocks, but if everything is good they tend to be isolated rather than happening in clusters. If there is a special bird that you are desperate to save, then a vet visit gives you access to the best medication.

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