Can Quails Get Marek’s Disease? (Answered)

by Kloee Ngozi
Updated on

Mareks is not particularly prevalent in quail, but it does not indicate it is not present.

During incubation, the embryos are sensitive to insufficient heat and humidity levels. Therefore, if they are not incubated properly, the birds can hatch with a variety of neurological and limb problems.

Quail chicks are likewise particularly susceptible to brooder cooling and frequently die if not brooded at the right temperature. 

What is Marek’s disease, and what are the symptoms?

Can Quails Get Marek's Disease

Marek’s disease is one of the world’s most prevalent poultry diseases.

It is a contagious viral infection caused by a herpes virus (Alphaherpesvirinae).

The virus is capable of invading the body and can survive without being detected by the immune system.

It modifies a subset of white blood cells, causing some of them to develop into malignant cells.

These cancerous cells then penetrate the internal organs, like the liver, kidneys, proventricular, gonads peripheral, skins, nerves, and muscles. 

This disease manifests itself in three ways: 

  • Neurological – Acute infiltration of the nerves and Central Nervous System that causes transient paralysis as well as more chronic paralysis of legs, wings, and eye lesions;
  • Visceral – develops tumours in the heart, ovary, tests, muscles, and lungs; 
  • Cutaneous – Tumours of feather follicles.

Morbidity ranges between 10% and 50%, and death can reach 100%.

Typically, mortality in an infected flock persists at a moderate to high rate for several weeks.

The fatality rate in ‘late’ Marek’s syndrome can reach 40 weeks of age. Birds that get affected by this disease are more prone to parasites and bacterial infections.

The disease is usually transmitted via the respiratory tract, and it is very contagious, being transferred by infected feather-follicle dander, fomites, etc. 

Related: Here is an article I wrote on the sounds quails make

How do I know if my quails have Marek’s disease?

When your quail gets marek illness, there are clinical indicators to look for. 

  • One leg stretched forward and the other back 
  • Paralysis 
  • Squatting position
  • Gasping
  • Blindness 
  • Enlarged crop
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooping wings
  • Weight loss
  • Inward curving of the toes 
  • Depression
  • Paleness Incoordination 
  • Torticollis (twisted or crooked neck) 
  • Nervous tics
  • Irregularly shaped or unequally sized pupils
  • Change in eye color

How do you get rid of Marek’s disease in quails?

Marek disease has no effective cure. However, there are preventive measures in places like biosecurity, vaccination, and genetic resistance.

Vaccination is the primary technique for preventing and controlling Marek illness, together with strict sanitary measures to avoid or postpone exposure and genetic resistance breeding.

Popular vaccines in this case include:

  • Turkey herpesvirus (HVT, naturally avirulent Meleagrid alphaherpesvirus 1)
  • SB-1 or 301B/1 (naturally avirulent Gallid alphaherpesvirus 3)
  • CVI988/Rispens (attenuated Gallid alphaherpesvirus 2)

Can quails be tested for Marek’s disease?

Quail can, in fact, be tested.

While you may never decide on testing for Marek’s Disease, it is beneficial and necessary for you to have a more profound understanding of the test, which can be helpful when making decisions anytime you suspect your flock has Marek’s Disease.

This section will become quite scientific, so bear with me as I attempt to keep it simple while remaining accurate.

The Traditional Method – Necropsy:

Needless to say, doing a necropsy involves the presence of a deceased chicken.

If your flock has developed an acute infection with Marek’s, you almost certainly have one. It’s just like doing an autopsy to determine what killed something.

So, in this case, the examiner will look for any enlargement or changes to the peripheral nerve and others. 

This method isn’t exactly affirmative, as it has symptoms that are similar to other diseases. So the final testing should be done with an assay called PCR.

Also check out this article on keeping quails as pets

The Molecular Method—PCR:

PCR or Polymerase Chain Reaction can be on either the blood or tissue from a living quail.

They can also use tissue obtained from the necropsy. For example, the PCR test for Marek’s Disease virus looks for a “genome sequence” that is unique to the Marek’s Disease virus.

Discovering that sequence indicates that you have discovered the virus.

How do I prevent my birds from getting Marek’s disease?

The most effective strategy to prevent any strains of Marek’s Disease from infecting your flock is to halt the disease before it begins.

Vaccinate your birds against this disease from day one, and do not expose them to any new bird for a week as the vaccine takes effect. 

While the vaccine will prevent birds from experiencing symptoms and greatly diminish the spread of the disease, a Marek’s Disease vaccination cannot completely prevent infection.

Additionally, you should adopt proper biosecurity in your coops to avoid spreading disease between diseased and healthy birds.

This includes maintaining clean chicken areas, changing clothes when visiting different chicken places, decreasing rodent and pest populations, and delaying introducing additional chickens to your present flock.

Are there any natural remedies for getting rid of Marek’s disease

Aloe Vera is the indigenous herb that we can utilize to control Marek’s disease outbreaks.

Combine the inner gel and Cayenne pepper to act as a catalyst. (each ingredient should be 340g in 4 liters of water).

It is preferable to begin treating Marek’s disease on the first day of life, as the incubation period is two weeks.

Birds as young as six weeks of age are susceptible. Pullet symptoms often manifest between 12 and 24 weeks of age.

Occasionally, older birds are also impacted.

It has also been made known that Americans have discovered a cure for it through Hypericum.

Hypericum is a little creeping herb that numbs nerves and dulls pain when used holistically.

When fed to a bird exhibiting symptoms of Marek’s illness, it cures the bird based on the principle of “like cures like.”

According to reports, numerous people have successfully utilized this plant to heal birds with Marek’s Disease completely.

Can I vaccinate my birds against it?

Vaccination is the only popular means of control known worldwide.

The vaccination should be done to chicks upon hatching or in ovo (in the egg) prior to hatching.

Birds may require approximately two weeks to develop immunity to the virus. 

During this time, it is vital to avoid exposing young chicks to the virus. You should get your chicks from a hatchery that can vaccinate them prior to export.

If you want to do this yourself, consult your veterinarian and follow the vaccine package closely to guarantee successful vaccination.


Marek’s is a prevalent disease in poultry—It’s a cancer-causing virus with a devastating effect.

In addition, this virus is constantly mutating, posing an ever-changing threat. Although vaccinated birds are primarily protected, unvaccinated birds may be at risk of contracting a more contagious disease variant. 

It can be pretty challenging for average quail keepers to protect their birds from Marek’s disease.

Unfortunately, some people suffer terrible repercussions when the disease manifests, while others suffer minor consequences.

Maintaining a healthy flock, maintaining good housekeeping, and adhering to tight quarantine procedures will all aid in the fight against this heinous disease

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About the author

Kloee Ngozi

Kloee is a backyard farmer and avid gardener who enjoys tending to her garden and plants. She is so engrossed with her plants that she has pet names for all of them. She likes to relax with a bottle of wine and read a book.


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