Marek’s disease is a highly contagious viral neoplastic disease in chickens, named after József Marek, a Hungarian veterinarian. Chickens are a natural host for Marek’s disease virus, however Quail can be naturally infected and turkeys can be infected in a research setting.
Infection spreads quickly from bird to bird, often regardless of vaccination status. Infected chickens continue to be carriers for long periods and act as sources of infectious virus. The disease is highly contagious and may survive for months in poultry housing or shedding, particularly where there is accumulation of dust or dander from infected chickens.
Marek’s disease virus can cause transient paralysis, atherosclerosis, cytolytic infection, and persistent neurologic disease and lymphoid neoplasms, early mortality syndrome.