leg paralysis in 8 week old chicken

Asked July 16, 2019, 11:31 AM EDT

Hello, i have a 10 week old chick that was not putting weight on one leg. On July 7th she went in to roost, and when i let them out in the morning of july 8th she was not walking on her left leg, she was hobbling and resting on her hock.. I found a vet to see her on Wednesday july 10th (20 years experience with birds of various type) he felt that her tendon was in the proper position. He thought she may have just sprained or strained something in her leg. He prescribed Metacam 2X a day. When following up with him 5 days later, he was discouraged that she was not using her leg yet. He had previously brought up the possibility of Mareks disease, and now feels that is most likely the issue. My concern is, could it be something else, that would be treatable?
I would hate to have a Necrpsy done, only to find that i could have aided her healing from some simple ailment.
She is the only chicken affected of 8 chicks in their own coop, and 13 grown chickens in a nearby coop.The young chicks had only been outside for two weeks prior to her developing this condition.
She is currently separated to a pen indoors, and i am practicing bio-security measures.
Our vet feels a vitamin deficiency is unlikely, as she was being fed from a new bag of chick starter feed, however i wonder about attempting specifically B vitamins and choline, as deficiencies in these seem to present with symptoms similar to hers according to the Merck veterinary manual.
If a vitamin deficiency were the cause, how long would it take to see improvement, Yesterday (july 16th) I fed her an egg with nutritional yeast added as it is high in B vitamins and choline from in the egg.
Update, today is 9 days since the onset, she has not gotten any worse, and this morning she was attempting to stand on the affected leg.
If i attempt to support her by placeing my hand under her body, she pulls her "good" leg up, and refuses to put it down.
Given all of this information, i wonder what the likelyhood is that it is Mareks, sort tissue injury or vitamin difficiency. I also wonder what to expect for her recovery, and future quality of life.

Thank you

Clarion County Pennsylvania

1 Response

Hi, thanks for reaching out. It is really difficult for me to know what the issue is (I am not a veterinarian and I have not seen the bird in question), and I think your best bet is to trust the veterinarian that has diagnosed your hen.

Some factors to consider: if it is Mareks this is contagious so your other birds are at risk. You could consider vaccinating against the virus when you get chicks in the future. The bird is not using her leg, and must experience discomfort from it. You should think about her current quality of life, she may be in pain. Do you see any other signs of issues, such as weight loss?

Again, I may not be your best resource. Could you check with another local vet if you feel the vet you visited may not have diagnosed correctly? If the bird is suffering it may be in her best interest to put her down. Sorry that I cannot be more helpful.

All the best.