Marek's disease is a highly contagious disease of poultry caused by a herpes virus. The virus invades white blood cells and is shed in skin cells and dander. The disease is transmitted readily among chickens through direct contact with infected birds or through inhalation of contaminated dust. Although some birds can live with the infection, the mortality rate is high. There are four forms of the disease based on location of lesions: cutaneous (skin), neural (nerves), ocular (eye) and visceral (internal organs).
Marek's disease is found worldwide.
Marek's disease is not a public health threat.
Signs of the illness can include any of the following:
A highly effective vaccine is available for Marek's disease. Hatcheries offer the option of purchasing chicks vaccinatined for Marek's Disease. This disease can be prevented by implementing a sound vaccination program and following the USDA-APHIS Biosecurity for the Birds program.
Marek's disease -Purdue University