Marek’s and Myrtle

bluebell hen

I’m really sad to announce that my bluebelle hen, Myrtle, passed away today at the tender age of 17 months. She went downhill incredibly fast, suffering from suspected Marek’s. Symptoms were paralysis of both legs (splayed), paralysis of the neck with blindness and inability to feed or drink. I took her to my vet today and the diagnosis was exactly what I feared. The decision was made – there’s no treatment for Marek’s and I wasn’t prepared to let her suffer.

bluebell chicken

I understand Myrtle has some fans via the blog, I’m so sorry to break this sad news to you. I’m incredibly upset to lose her from such a cruel disease. Marek’s is very contagious and only time will tell how this situation will develop with regards to her flock mates.

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35 comments

  1. I am so very sorry! Non-chicken people don’t understand how hard it is to lose even one from our flock, but I do, and my heart goes out to you.

  2. So sorry to hear that. I’ve only briefly looked into Marek’s and it sounds horrible. It’s tough when you get attached to your hens and there are no options to help them. Just hope and pray that the rest are okay.

  3. Thank you JonesGardenBlog. Marek’s is awful, there are 4 different forms of it; Cutaneous (skin form), Neural (nerve form), Ocular (eye form) and Visceral (internal-organ form). My flock were vaccinated as chicks prior to getting them, sadly, Marek’s can still strike.

  4. I am so sorry …. I don’t keep any chicken right now, but when I was young, I had a pet rooster. I understand how you feel. Keeping my fingers crossed the others stay healthy.

  5. I’m very sorry to hear that, Karen. We lost 2 of our first 3 chickens to Marek’s, but I don’t think the third one had any of the symptoms before she died. They were all supposed to be vaccinated against it, but I believe they can still pick it up when they are very young, perhaps before they are vaccinated. It seems the vaccine is a bit hit and miss, but it means some chickens won’t succumb, so I hope the vaccine will prove successful in your other birds.

  6. Hi Karin, yes I believe the vaccine can be hit and miss, especially in mass hatcheries. The virus spreads through feather dander, when it’s inhaled, so it’s virtually impossible to eradicate. Fingers crossed for no more losses.

  7. Oh no…:( I am so sorry about Myrtle…how sad and such a young chicky too..i hope that the rest of the girls will be okay what a horrible thing to go through..and yes people have no idea how close you get to your girls..they are such wonderful little creatures..big hugs to you and fingers crossed for the rest of the coop
    Fozziemum xxxxx

  8. Karen that is so sad, I am really sorry for you and for poor beautiful Myrtle. Fingers crossed over the next few weeks for you all. She had a lovely time with you and you were blessed with her amongst you.
    I will be keeping extra eyes on my girls now thank you for your warnings.

  9. Sorry for your loss, i also lost a 3 month old to the disease. i tried to force feed her and she fought to live but lost the battle. so far all others ok, same luck to you

  10. Thank you everyone for your kind words regarding Myrtle, it’s a worrying time and it’s knocked my confidence somewhat. The hen run is certainly quiet without her :(

    Denise, sorry to hear you lost a baby to Marek’s.

  11. I’ve got a young duck two weeks ago, which is now growing up by my hands. I would also be upset, if something happens to “Pelle”. I’am so sorry for your loss :-(

  12. So sorry to hear about your beautiful Myrtle, I have to say se was one of the prettiest chickens I have seen. I have all my fingers crossed the the rest of the flock are okay!

  13. Karen,
    Sorry to hear about Myrtle :-( i do hope all the other girls are OK, After Paz went I had a spate of deaths but most were egg related. I thought the posh girls were pretty much rock solid, Daisy my Sussex went down with that it was horrible,(lost another to egg problems last week) but I’ve lost several over the past months from 24 down to 13.
    I’ll keep everything crossed for all the other girls, big hugs
    Fran xx

  14. Thank you Fran x I’m so sorry to hear you’re losing your beloved hens. It’s so easy to become attached to them :(

    So far the other girls appear to be OK, but I am concerned about one with regards to Ocular Marek’s. It may be nothing, but I’ve noticed changes to her pupil and it’s enough to worry me. There’s no cure, no treatment, so it’s a matter of watching my tiny flock closely and getting vet help as and when needed. Thanks for stopping by Fran. xx

  15. Just want to say that I’m still thinking about you and your girls. I hope very much that they’ll stay well!

  16. Karen I am so sorry about Myrtle. i have finally gotten around to making my first painting study inspired by Myrtle. I would like to send you a print if you would send me your direct email will send you a copy of the print. I will make some more images and I am happy to share them with your permission I wold like to include her name in my studies so we always remember that gorgeous little chicken http://society6.com/AldanaDecorativeArt/The-Blue-bell-Chicken-Myrtle_Print#1=45

  17. Hi Melissa, lovely to hear from you. I miss Myrtle terribly, she was a funny character with her very loud cluck! How wonderful that you painted her, thank you ever so much I’d be delighted to have a print, thank you!! Please feel free to use her name in your studies. Karen

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