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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24419
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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I have a hen, who has lost her balance, and can not control

Customer Question

I have a hen, who has lost her balance, and can not control her legs, she falls to her side, sometimes recovering, but if she falls over to far, she can't correct her self. Sometimes even falling on her back. But her eyes are clear, and she is eating and drinking well, though sometimes needs assistance to get to the water & food, if she gets too far from them.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with your hen, Sally. Her paresis (weakness)/paralysis involving her legs is strongly suggestive of Marek's disease (herpesvirus). I need you to review this link and look for other symptoms of Marek's mentioned in the link. Then please return to our conversation and let me know if you see any of the symptoms in your hen.

http://www.birdhealth.com.au/#!mareks-disease/c1qzk

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I had reviewed Marek's disease, but had felt that was not the reason. But maybe I am trying to be too specific.
- Paralysis of legs - (not wings or neck)
- one leg stretches forward and the other backwards - I have not seen this specifically, but yes, paralysis
- some degree of lameness or paralysis
- yes, anticipate this is onset of egg laying age. I bought them in August, feathered, but young. Then too dark & cold, so may be late start of egg laying.
– occurred early Spring following a cold spell
- it has been at least a week or two.
- clinical sign is partial paralysis of the legs, but use of wings.
- No bending of the head, can move her head back & forth
- As I mentioned, she is eating well, but need needs help reaching the food.
If I need to put her down, what do you recommend.
Do I just watch the rest of my flock? I have a total mixed flock of bantams, while a couple of my birds are older, most I have purchased since last April at various times since then, a few at a time.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

Thank you for the additional information. You may not need to put her down. A few Marek's patients suffer from a transient paralysis and will recover. You can continue hospicing her as seen here: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2015/02/how-to-help-sick-chicken.html

Yes, but if Marek's is present your entire flock has been exposed. There's no reason to quarantine her other than for your convenience in caring for her. I'm seeing strains of Marek's that are variations of the classic picture. Older birds are affected and less virulent symptoms arise. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

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