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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 25140
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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We recently had a Cornish Cross meat chicken die

Customer Question

We recently had a Cornish Cross meat chicken die unexpectedly. We took her to our nearest UC vet clinic for a necropsy.
The report came back saying:
"One chicken carcass:
1. Lymphoproliferative disease (Presumptive Marek’s disease)
a. Brain: Moderate to severe multifocal lymphocytic perivascular cuffs and vasculitis
CAHFS veterinarians do not provide recommendations on backyard flock management or disease control and prevention . Please consult with a practicing veterinarian regarding health/disease management of your flock. Information about backyard poultry, including common avian diseases and who to contact regarding some backyard flock -related issues may be found at the University of California Cooperative Extension website (http://ucanr.edu/sites/poultry/)."Now I'm kind of freaking out about Marek's! I hear it is pretty contagious. Is there anything I can do to protect the rest of my flock? Can I vaccinate if they haven't already been? What if they have, but I don't know? I only know of 2 that have for sure. I read the link the report provided, but it makes it sound like it is too late to vaccinate.
Plus it says "Presumptive Marek's". Does that mean it could be something else? She didn't have any paralysis.
Thank you
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 6 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this. At 3 months of age, lymphoproliferative disorders are consider to be due to Marek's unless proven otherwise. Lymphoid leukosis is the main differential diagnosis but because the virus has a long incubation period, signs aren't noticeable until birds are 4 months of age or older.

There's no point in vaccinating at this time because the rest of your flock has already been exposed to the Marek's disease herpesvirus. Chicks are vaccinated at 1 day of age but the vaccine isn't 100% protective but can decrease morbidity (severity of signs). Sacrificing your entire flock is an option but not commonly done. Instead, any new additions to the flock need to be vaccinated against Marek's and birds that become clinically ill treated supportively - a few will recover - or sacrificed and necropsied to see if Marek's or another cause of their illness is present.

Paralysis - while pathognomonic (particularly indicative) of Marek's - need not be seen. There are many forms of this vexing infection. Here's an excellent review for you: http://www.birdhealth.com.au/#!mareks-disease/c1qzk

Please review the link and then return to our conversation with additional questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I have 2 dilemmas:
First, I have sone chicks that are still in side in a broader that range from. 1-3 weeks. 2 are "homegrown" so I know they aren't vaccinated. The other 3 came from our local feed store and they dont post if they're vaccinated or not. (I'll call tomorrow). Feeling like I should vaccinate them
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Second, my hen cocoa (that we talked about earlier when the crop and worm issues) died yesterday. I did end up taking her to a vet for treatment. When I told her that she hadoesn't passed she said I didn't need to necropsy since we're pretty sure why she died. But know I'm worried about Marek's and it's too late to have her tested
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 6 months ago.

It wouldn't be harmful to do so but I can't tell you that the vaccine at this time would be of value. Please note, too, that you'll have to buy a large amount of vaccine in order to vaccinate just two chicks and you're not going to find that that's financially reasonable.

Yes, we'll never know the whole story about Cocoa. My condolences for her loss. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

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