Gail Damerow Discusses Marek’s Illness


How frequent is Marek’s illness?

“The illness is so frequent that you could safely assume your chickens have the virus, even when they don’t present any indicators of an infection. Like many viruses, Marek’s illness is sneaky.

“It could actually stay dormant in a hen’s physique. At any time, it might turn out to be lively on account of stress. Some stress situations that may set off it are overcrowding, poor air flow, or an overload of worms. Even the pure strategy of maturing and starting to put could be a set off,” she says. 

“The virus may trigger slow-growing tumors that produce no seen indicators. Because the hen ages, the tumors turn out to be so large the chicken can now not survive.”

How does a hen get Marek’s illness?

“The virus is shed in contaminated pores and skin and feather follicles. Different chickens get it by inhaling infectious mud.

“The primary few weeks of a chick’s life are essentially the most crucial time for an infection. Chicks that reside away from mature chickens till the age of 5 months develop a pure immunity that helps them overcome the Marek’s virus as adults.

“Some hen strains are genetically extra resistant than others. Fayoumis, as an example, have an ultra-strong structure. They’re immune to Marek’s and plenty of different illnesses.

Sebrights and Silkies, however, are usually notably inclined. So are some strains of Polish, amongst different unique breeds,” Ms. Damerow cautions.

What’s the treatment for Marek’s illness?

“There is no such thing as a recognized remedy for Marek’s illness. However there’s a vaccine.”

Inform us in regards to the vaccine.

“Turkeys carry a associated non-tumor-forming virus that stops the Marek’s virus from creating tumors in chickens. Marek’s vaccine derives from the turkey virus, often together with a weakened type of the Marek’s virus.

“For the vaccine to be efficient, chicks have to be innocculated earlier than they encounter the Marek’s virus. So chicks generally obtain the vaccine on the day they hatch. Many hatcheries provide the choice to prospects who buy chicks,” Ms. Damerow explains. 

“Vaccination doesn’t stop the chance that the chickens could turn out to be contaminated by, and subsequently unfold, the Marek’s virus. Nonetheless, it does stop the virus from inflicting tumors and paralysis. It additionally reduces shedding of the virus by contaminated birds.

“Vaccination is just not 100% foolproof. About 5% of vaccinated chickens succumb to Marek’s illness anyway.

“Additionally, because the virus mutates and turns into progressively extra virulent, at the moment accessible vaccines turn out to be much less efficient. So newer, stronger, vaccines have to be developed.”

The place does the identify Marek’s come from?

“The situation was first described by Hungarian veterinarian József Marek in 1907, and has turn out to be some of the extensively studied illnesses of chickens. Whole books have been written about it, but we nonetheless don’t have the complete image of precisely how the virus works.

“Nonetheless, we’ve chickens to thank for our first most cancers prevention vaccines. The unique goal of such vaccines was to cut back deaths from Marek’s virus. Despite the fact that this cancer-inducing herpesvirus doesn’t have an effect on people, its discovery led to vital and probably life-saving most cancers analysis.”



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