Poultry farming in Africa has massive opportunities for investors and businessmen. However, it is full of challenges that you need to surmount. There are several diseases that you must watch out for to prevent mass chicken death. Marek's Disease is a lethal infection with high morbidity and mortality ratios. In this article, we explain the signs and symptoms of Marek's Disease, mode of transmission, and strategies to prevent it.
Understanding Marek's Disease
Marek's Disease has a viral origin similar to those of chicken pox and sores. The causal pathogen is linked to herpes virus. Unlinked chicken pox, humans cannot contract this sickness from poultry. However, it moves swiftly from one bird to the other. Once detected in your flock, there is often no remedy.
Moreover, it has a low occurrence probability, which is quite a relief to poultry farmers. With the right preventive measures, you should be able to keep Marek's disease at bay.
Mode of Transmission of Marek's Disease
If you are wondering, how does Marek's disease move from one bird to the other, it is quite straightforward. When a healthy chicken inhales dander and aerosol from an infected one, it contracts the pathogen. Moreover, when the birds are tightly packed together, the pathogens move even faster.
Another viable method of transmission is via a previously infected pen. If a poultry house contained diseased chickens, you need to thoroughly disinfect it to ensure there are no pathogens remaining there.
Farm workers can also be carriers of Marek's disease. Strains can stay glued to their overalls, shoes, gloves, or equipment. So, as they move from one pen to the other, they transfer these pathogens unknowingly fo healthier birds.
Meanwhile, you should understand that Marek's disease cannot be transferred vertically. That is, from mother hen to chicks via the egg. Therefore, if any of your day old chicks should have the disease, it must have contracted it from an infected bird after hatching.
Signs and Symptoms of Marek's Disease
As a farmer, you should watch our for either one or more of these symptoms. When you see anyone of the symptoms, isolate the affected bird immediately.
- Blurred vision
- Paralysis of major body parts including wings, neck, and legs
- Drastic weight loss
- Faded iris and deformed pupil
- Irregular swellings in the feather region
- Whitish bumps on the skin that later turn brown
Prevention of Marek's Disease
Prevention is often better and cheaper than cure. This statement is even more important when it comes to Marek's disease. If one of your chickens contracts it, it could destroy the whole flock. Moreover, here are some strategies to mitigate the occurrence of the disease on your farm.
- It is advisable to buy new flocks from hatcheries with healthy parent stocks. Also, they must have reputation for vaccinating their eggs and chicks.
- If you are hatching your eggs on your farm, ensure you vaccinate your eggs and chicks against Marek's disease.
- Ensure you keep the pen clean often. Cleanliness makes it easier to keep your birds safe. Before the litter becomes too dirty, remove it and replace with a fresh one.
- Once you observe any chicken displaying any disease symptoms, isolate and treat it for a couple of days. If it does not recover after a few days, it is safer to kill the affected bird. Then, vaccinate the remaining flock.
- Have a good rodents and pests management strategy. Rodents and pests can serve as carriers for Marek's disease. Therefore, ensure you put in measures to keep them out of your farm.
Poultry farming is a delicate business because of the prevalence of diseases. However, proper vaccination and good biosecurity measures can help mitigate the symptoms of Marek's disease in chickens.
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