Healthy Pigeons Win Races Part 2 “Diseases of Concern”
Pigeon Pox: Pox is a viral disease that is very common in young birds. Most pigeon flyers are very familiar with what the disease looks like. It produces raised, yellow, scabby lesions usually on the featherless parts of the body such as the beak, legs and eye cere. It also can be in the mouth. These lesions are firmly attached to the skin and hard to peel off. When exposed the birds will develop a fever and feel a little off before they break out with lesions. If you get it in your young birds just before or during the season you will have major problems with performance. It is highly recommended that you vaccinate your birds with the Maine Biological vaccine or the Belgian pox vaccine. A good easy way to vaccinate is to take three 20 gauge syringe needles and push them through a cork where the tips are right next to each other. Dip them in the vaccine and prick the skin on the featherless part of the breast about � inch off of the keel. Just barely puncture the skin with the needles a couple of times. You will get about 100% takes and can pox a lot of pigeons very quickly. The vaccine also goes a lot farther this way. Be sure to vaccinate at least 6 weeks before race season or training your youngsters with other unvaccinated birds as your birds will be contagious as long as they have a scab where you vaccinated them.
Paramyxo Virus: PMV can be a devastating disease in your loft if you don’t vaccinate. The virus produces two sets of symptoms. One, it causes inflammation of the kidneys so infected pigeons will produce a ton of urine. Instead of the white portion of the dropping you will get a pool of water around the fecal portion on the perch. The birds will drink a lot to keep up with urine production and the loft will get very wet. Two, it causes neurological signs such as lameness, dropped wings, twisted necks, inability to fly, ect. We don’t seem to see as high a percentage of birds with the neurological signs today as we used to. You cannot treat PMV once you have it and the only way to not get it is to vaccinate. I highly recommend the injectable vaccine from Maine Biological. It is safe and effective. Due to some reports by reputable flyers that the injectable vaccine hurts performance a lot of people are using the LaSota chicken vaccine for Newcastle disease. This is very risky and not recommended as immunity produced from it is very short lived it they get any immunity at all. I am not convinced that performance is harmed at all as many All American lofts use the injectable vaccine with no problems. If you have an outbreak because you messed up and didn’t vaccinate, vaccinate immediately and give supportive care. Most birds will recover, even to race again, it they can eat and drink. You may have to hand feed and water them but it is worth it, if it is a good pigeon.
Paratyphoid: Salmonella causes the disease paratyphoid in pigeons. It is a bacterial infection that causes a multitude of possible symptoms including sudden death of apparently healthy birds of any age, joint infections causing a dropped wing or lameness, infertility in cocks and hens, diarrhea, weight loss, ect. This is a treatable disease and is best treated with Baytril (250 mg./ gall.) or Cipro (500mg./gall) for 10-14 days. Baytril (and I assume Cipro) has been shown to get rid of the carrier state of salmonella so you no longer must destroy infected birds. Remember these drugs should not be used while breeding and raising babies. Vaccination is available and is a good idea, especially if you have had a problem with the disease before. The vaccine contains an immune stimulant and seems to really give the birds a boost of great health when used about 3-4 weeks before the race season. This disease is carried by rodents so you must keep them out of your loft to prevent possible infection in your birds.
Coli: This is a related bacteria to Salmonella and produces the exact same symptoms. It is much more common than salmonella and probably a lot of what people are diagnosing as salmonella based on symptoms alone is actually E. coli infection. You treat E. coli with antibiotics but you should have a culture and sensitivity run before you treat as this bug varies a lot in what drug kills it best. I have made vaccines for some lofts with chronic problems and helped them, but this is not usually needed. E. coli is a big secondary invader and birds that are stressed with worms, coccidia, canker, and other problems tend to be much more susceptible to it. If you have had E. coli problems in the past it is critical that you control all other disease problems to keep it from recurring.
Worms: Pigeons get a lot of different worms including roundworms, capillaria, tetrameres and tapeworms. Since Telmintic is now off the market Ivermectin is the drug of choice for all but tape worms with which we use Droncit (1/4 cat pill per bird). Ivermectin at the rate of 1/10 of a cc per bird orally will take care of the others. Remember , you must scrape the loft daily to prevent reinfection of your birds after you worm them. The wormer only kills what is in them at the time and doesn’t prevent your birds from becoming reinfected again.
Healthy Pigeons Win Races Part 2 Diseases of Concern by Dr. Steive Weir DVM