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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Salmonellosis (Paratyphoid)

Salmonellosis (Paratyphoid, Leg Paralysis, Wing Paralysis ) is a bacterial
disease. It has different symptoms depending on what organs are affected. It
causes high mortality in the very young pigeons, birds that survive the infection
frequently become carriers as they harbor the pathogen in their bodies and
excrete them without showing any visible symptoms of the disease. Carriers
endanger the entire flock, especially the young birds.

The salmonellae bacteria settles in the intestine, they posses one flagella
which enables movement in a moist environment. The pathogens are excreted
via the droppings, crop milk, saliva and with infected eggs. Salmonellae can
enter the pigeons body through contaminated feed or drinking water, also
through billing or feeding of the squabs. The pathogen can even enter the pigeon by breathing dust containing it.

The disease is imported into the loft by the introducing of a new infected
pigeon to the flock, either by purchasing an infective bird or an infected common pigeon that has strayed into the loft.

There are four different forms of the disease:

• Intestinal Form: This form causes diarrhea with slimy/aqueous brownish
to greenish droppings, the droppings will be surrounded by fluid and may
contain pulpy undigested feed. The intestines are inflamed, feed cannot
be broken down for its nutrients. Since the pigeon can no longer absorb
the nutrients its starts using its blood sugar, when that is depleted, it uses
its fat reserves and then finally its protein i.e. muscle tissue. Soon the
pigeon is emaciated (starving) and the dies.
• Articular Form: Salmonellae can quickly multiply in the digested feed.
Through damaged intestinal walls they pass easily into the blood stream.
From there the blood will carry the disease throughout the whole body.
The pathogens may settle in the pigeons joints where they cause painful
inflammation. The pigeons body reacts by the increased formation of fluid
to these joints, therefore the swelling. The inflammation manifests itself by
the pigeon letting a wing droop or holding its leg up to ease the pressure
put upon the joints and alleviate the pain.
• Organ Involvement: The disease can also multiply in the different
organs of the pigeon especially the liver, kidneys, spleen, heart and
pancreas. Tumor like yellowish gray nodes are formed. The changes in
the organs are not characterized by any typical external symptoms except
listlessness, difficulty in breathing and rapidly progressing debility.
• Nervous Disorder: Salmonellae can enter the brain and the bone
marrow and cause inflammation there. As a result of the inflammation
there is increased pressure exerted on the nerve cells causing an
impaired sense of balance and finally paralysis.

The medication of choice is: Baytril 10% (also good for e-coli and ornithosis):
Bacterial injection and drug sensitivity is the first choice in determining which
drug your pigeon should be treated with, in lieu of that, Baytril is the drug of
choice because it works in most cases against bacterial infections. Baytril can be purchased in tablets for individual birds or in liquid form for flock treatment.

• Tablets: 1 tablet for 14 days for an individual bird
• Liquid: 4cc per gallon for 10 days for flock treatment.
• Liquid: 3 or 4 drops down the birds throat for 14 days. (individual

Most of all, isolate any new pigeons you acquire and observe them for at least
30 days before you introduce them into the loft. And make your loft intruder proof for stray common pigeons and for rodents. Rats and mice also carry paratyphoid and will soil the grain that your pigeons eat.


Coccidiosis is an intestinal disease which is widely distributed among all
pigeons. Nearly all pigeons are coccidia carriers and excrete oocysts (the
permanent stages of the pathogen) in their droppings without suffering from the disease. Coccidiosis is an insidious condition which is more like a stress factor than an actual disease. Since coccidiosis opens the door to other diseases like paratyphoid, canker or paramyxovirus, appropriate treatment should be carried out within reasonable limits.

Coccidia are monocellular organisms (protozoa) which live as parasites in the
intestine. They invade the cells of the intestine where they multiply and destroy
the intestinal wall. The result is an inflammation of the bowels with diarrhea.

The pathogens form permanent stages (oocysts) which become infective after
maturing in the environment. Their resistant shell makes the oocysts relatively
intensive to environmental factors. Adult pigeons are coccidia carriers without
visible being affected, and constantly excrete oocysts. As a result of the profuse
multiplication of the coccidia in the cells of the small intestine, a large part of the cells of the intestinal wall are destroyed. This causes severe digestive disorder which manifests itself in diarrhea with the acute form of the disease. The destroyed intestinal wall enables bacteria to spread very easily. Coccidiosis, like paratyphoid, thus opens the door to other bacterial infections.

There are two forms of coccidiosis:

• Subclinical Or Asymptomatic Form: This form is seen in almost all
pigeons. They do not show any symptoms of the disease. Through the
regular ingestion of oocysts, the defenses of the pigeon body are
continually stimulated, thus gradually producing immunity to infection. In
this situation the pigeon lives in some kind of equilibrium with the
pathogens. It serves little purpose to treat birds with such low grade
infestation, since the balance in favor of the pigeons body is temporarily
disturbed and natural immunity to infection is reduced for a while.
• Actual Coccidiosis Taking An Acute Course: This form of the disease
very rarely occurs in young susceptible birds from the third week of life,
which have not yet been able to build up immunity to infection. Stress
factors like the change over from crop milk to grain feed reduce the natural
résistance of young pigeons and allow the rapid spread of coccidia, even if
only few oocysts are taken up. Symptoms of severe intestinal disease
appear, such as digestive disorders with muco-aqueous and, in some
cases bloody diarrhea. Emaciation, listlessness and debility are also
observed. As a result, such pigeons die either of weakness or of
secondary infections. If affected birds are treated in time, the prospects of
a cure are favorable, since the damaged intestinal wall recovers
comparatively quickly.
The medications of choice is: Corid (Amprolium) The drug of choice by many
against coccidiosis, it is highly effective and can be mixed with other drugs.
• 1 Teaspoon per gallon of water for 3 to 5 daysays.


Ornithosis is an infectious disease caused by chlamydia and can be
transmitted from animals to man. Ornithosis is particularly frequent from May to July and from October to December. It is only in young birds that the disease
causes substantial losses. If adult pigeons are infected, they usually do not show any, or only very slight symptoms.

Chlamydia are excreted in the droppings, lachrymal fluid, beak and throat
mucus and the crop milk. Birds visibly suffering from ornithosis and those who
are carriers may excrete the pathogen. The pigeons contract the infection by
breathing in dust containing the pathogen, by ingesting infected feed or water
and by billing or feeding their young.

Ornithosis manifests itself in impaired general condition. The pigeon will show
listlessness, reduced feed intake, increased water intake, reduced performance
and high losses in rearing. In some birds conjunctivitis (sticking together of the
eye lids) is observed. The pigeon may show sensitivity to bright light and shut
their eyes. The result of the inflammation causes the tear duct to become
narrower and the production of lachrymal fluid increases. As it cannot sufficiently flow out through the tear duct, it is secreted via the eye lid. At first the discharge is aqueous but then turns to mucus, the eye lids stick together and begin to bulge with the accumulated fluid. If the inflammation persists for a long period, corneal opacity can occur, leading to blindness.

Once the first case has been observed, several of the pigeons will
successively show the same inflammation of the conjunctiva. Only a few birds
will contract the infection at the same time. It may therefore take 3 or 4 weeks
before all the pigeons in the loft are infected.

The disease may spread to the upper respiratory tract. Nasal catarrh occurs, a
milky yellow fluid may discharge from the nostrils and then dry and obstruct
them. The pigeon will have to breath through the half opened beak. The
inflammation causes pain and itching, which the pigeon will try to scratch. The
pigeon may also try to clear his nostrils by sneezing and jerking its head about.
Adequate treatment of ornithosis is very important for the following reasons;
There is a danger that the infection is transmitted to man. With chronic ornithosis the entire offspring of the pigeons is at risk (losses up to 80%). Latent ornithosis opens the door to further diseases. Untreated ornithosis causes lasting damage.

The medication of choice is: Baytril 10% (also good for paratyphoid and e-coli):
Bacterial injection and drug sensitivity is the first choice in determining which
drug your pigeon should be treated with, in lieu of that, Baytril is the drug of
choice because it works in most cases against bacterial infections. Baytril can be purchased in tablets for individual birds or in liquid form for flock treatment.

• Tablets: 1 tablet for 14 days for an individual bird.
• Liquid: 4cc per gallon for 10 days for flock treatment.
• Liquid: 3 or 4 drops down the birds throat for 14 days. (individual


This virus disease was first found to take an epidemic course in pigeons in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1982. Following a large international fancy pigeon show the disease occurred in pedigreed pigeons in the winter of 1982/1983 After the start of the racing season in the summer of 1983, numerous cases occurred also in racing pigeons with substantial losses. The Paramyxovirus of pigeons is closely related to the virus of atypical fowl pest (Newcastle Disease).

The virus spreads by direct contact from bird to bird or indirectly through the pathogen bearing dust. This dust is also spread by insects (flies, mosquitoes), mammals, (rats, mice) and humans. The first sign of the disease is increased water intake and watery droppings, soon some of the birds show central nervous disorders like paralysis, torsion of the neck, increased timidity and
typical twisting movements of the body. To detect the infection at an early stage these nervous disorders can be provoked if there is reason to suspect the disease. A pigeon suspected of Paramyxovirus is put into an unaccustomed position, for example it is placed on its side, or is frightened by the clapping of one's hands. Pigeons suffering from Paramyxovirus are no longer able to control the takeoff reflex in such situations of fright. They either fly against a wall or
overturn in flight. The infected pigeons show typical behavior when trying to eat their grain. They try to pick the grain, but just before reaching the grain they jerk their head sideways' thus missing the grain. This condition will worsen until the bird will not be able to pick up any seeds at all. Of the visibly affected pigeons, some will die quickly, but the majority live on and develop poorly.
• General Measures If The Disease Is Suspected: If Paramyxovirus is suspected,
precautionary measures should be taken which slow down or prevent the spread of the infection, until the position has been clarified.
• The most important action that should be taken immediately is to establish the cause of the disease. For this purpose laboratory tests described have to be carried out.
• All diseases found in addition to paramyxovirus during the investigation and especially the laboratory test, must be treated at once. The progress of the virus infection is mitigated by the elimination of concomitant diseases.
• Pigeons with visible signs of the disease (diarrhea, central nervous disorders) should be separated from the rest of the loft and treated.
• Affected birds should be offered water in vessels with a large surface, since pigeons with nervous disorders are often unable to take up water from normal drinking vessels.
• Pigeons showing pronounced central nervous disorders should be fed individually. In the loft they would not be able to feed at all, since the healthy pigeons would quickly eat up all the feed.

• Outsiders should not be allowed to enter the loft.
• To stabilize the intestinal environment, give the pigeons beneficial bacteria.
• Measures To Be Taken If Paramyxovirus Is Present: The virus infection cannot be treated by giving drugs that contain antibiotics. With this type of pathogen, only vaccination can prevent the spread of the infection. According to present findings, the immunity conferred by the vaccine lasts only 6 months.
• All pigeons with severe central nervous disorders should be culled, since the prospects of a cure are very poor.
• I the fancier does not wish to eliminate valuable pigeons, they should be separated from the rest of the loft. Vaccination of diseased birds is not possible.
• Emergency vaccination which can prevent the spread of the virus infection, should be carried out in all pigeons that still appear to be healthy. After the emergency vaccination it will still take 2 or 3 weeks until sufficient antibodies have been formed. During this time further cases of the disease may appear. At the time of vaccination, such pigeons were in the incubation phase, i.e. they were already infected by the virus, but did not show any sign of the disease.
• All pigeons in lofts in the vicinity of the affected loft and having contact with it, should be vaccinated, even if no cases of the disease have been observed.
• Hygienic measures and disinfection should be carried out to support vaccination: droppings, remnants of feed and litter should be removed daily when cleaning the loft. Cleaned surfaces should be disinfected.
• Supportive Measures: Administration of vitamins, particularly of the B complex, and of body salts in the form of electrolytes in the drinking water.
• Beneficial bacteria for the intestinal flora.
• Secondary infections should be treated.

The medication of choice is: Colombovac pmv/pox. For the prevention of paramyxovirus and pox in pigeons, all in one injection. Should be injected under the skin on the upper rear part of the neck, below the head area. Dosage is 0.2cc per pigeon. Do not vaccinate pigeons under 6 weeks of age. Keep vaccine refrigerated until use, use all of the vaccine after opening, dispose of the unused portions and syringes properly.

Trichomoniasis (Canker)

Canker is a widely distributed infectious disease. Approximately 80% of all
pigeons are infested with trichomonas. Adult pigeons rarely show symptoms of
the disease, but in young birds the infection is often severe and fatal.
Trichomonas is a protozoan, it is also a flagellate which can propel itself in
fluids. In many pigeons small pinhead sized yellow spots are observed in the
throat or gullet. These are often accumulations of the canker which look like
small yellow buttons. In adult pigeons canker does not usually produce any
significant damage to health, and there is some kind of equilibrium between the
canker and the defense mechanisms of the pigeons body. It is only when the
defenses of the pigeon are weakened by stress that the canker can multiply
profusely, and a slight insignificant canker infection then turns into a serious
problem. The stress can be caused by excessive demands in breeding, weakening of the bird by infestation with internal parasites, paratyphoid, respiratory tract infection or the first molting of the squabs. The physical condition of the pigeons has a bearing on the course of the disease. Weak birds or young birds usually contract the rapidly spreading canker to which they may succumb after a short period due to a lack of defense mechanisms.

There are three forms of the disease:

• Pharyngeal Form: With this form of the disease, caseous yellow
deposits are observed in the throat when the beak is opened. The
"buttons" which may reach the size of a bean, inhibit the intake of feed
and water as well as breathing.
• Umbilical Form: With this form of the disease the canker passes from
the infected nest box to the naval of the nestlings (which has not
completely closed) into the body. A tumor forms below the skin. An
incision shows the caseous and crumbly canker. In many cases the
infection is confined to this area only.
• Organ Form: If the infection is not confined to the naval or throat, the
canker may attack various internal organs and cause considerable
changes. It is particularly in the liver that coarse yellowish canker are
formed and which are deeply embedded in the organ. Only general signs
like listlessness, apathy, and ruffled plumage as well as diarrhea,
emaciation, and debility may be observed.
The medication of choice is: Ronidazole (Ridzol) This is the product of choice
in Europe for the treatment of canker. Available in powder or tablets (not harmful to young birds).

• Tablets: 1 Tablet a day for 3 days, may repeat. Individual Treatment.
• Powder: 1 Tsp. per gallon of water for 5 days. Flock Treatment.


Pigeon pox is virus disease which is found most often in racing pigeons, and
less commonly in fancy pigeons. The typical scabby deposits on the outer skin
(pox) have given the disease its name. If these deposits occur on the beak and in the throat area, they are described as the mucosal form of pox. Young birds are more susceptible to the infection than adult pigeons where pox is rarely seen.

Pox viruses are excreted by saliva, nasal and the lachrymal fluid. The fluids
drip onto the loft floor and dry up. The pathogen containing dust is whirled up by the movement of the pigeons. For the pox infection to take, minute lesions or
injuries need to be present (from pigeons pecking each other or the bite of a
mosquito) into which the pathogen bearing dust can penetrate. There they cause locally confined but pronounced deposits. The scabby pox will occur especially in skin areas not covered by feathers, such as the orbital margins, the skin on the edge of the beak, the legs and feet. However the pathogens can also settle in the nasal cavity and the pharynx, the windpipe and the gullet may become obstructed by the yellowish deposits which are difficult to detach. The birds will suffocate of succumb from starvation.

The skin and mucosal forms of pox can be easily recognized by the scabby
deposits. Pox can be confused with canker, but canker usually never develops
on the bare skin only in mucus areas. The medication of choice is: Pox Vaccine (Main Labs) Used by many fanciers, and almost a must in the South. This is the brush on type. One will remove (pluck) a few feathers from an area of the leg of their pigeon and expose the skin from where the feathers were removed, brush on the vaccine onto this area.

• All Birds Without Symptoms: Emergency vaccination: The spread of
the infection can be accelerated by vaccinating all of the pigeons in the loft
that still appear to be healthy. The vaccination is carried out using a live
vaccine containing attenuated pigeon pox virus.
• All Birds In The Loft: Follow up treatment subsequent to the actual
treatment of all the pigeons in the loft has proved of value.
• Disinfection: As a result of the infection, there will be an accumulation of
pathogens in the pigeon environment. Therefore disinfection needs to be
carried out using an agent that destroys the viruses. After thorough
cleaning, the loft and the aviary are disinfected twice at an interval of one
week. Birds that survive a pox infection possess lifelong immunity.


Roundworms and hairworms are frequently involved in the worm infestation of
the pigeons. Other types of worms play a lesser role. Roundworms and
hairworms live as parasites in the intestine of the pigeons. They damage a
pigeons body by extracting important nutritive substances from the digested food (roundworms), by the toxic effect of their excretion products and by destruction of the intestinal wall (hairworms).

The hairworms occurring in pigeons also attack other domestic and wild birds.
Almost every other pigeon is infested with hairworms. Hairworm infestation is in fact the most common worm disease in pigeons. Roundworms occur only in
pigeons. Every 5th pigeon is likely to be infested with roundworms. In many
cases both types of worms appear at the same time. Young pigeons show
increased susceptibility, whereas adult pigeons seem to develop some kind of
immunity to these parasites. Although they may harbor isolated worms,
symptoms of the disease are rarely observed. These pigeons are permanent
carriers and are a constant source of infection for the rest of the loft, particularly the young pigeons. Worms consist mainly of protein. They are protected against the digestive juices of the host by layers of keratin or chitin. In the intestine the worms adhere to the intestinal wall with suction cups (roundworms) or burrow into the mucosa (hairworms). For this reason, they are not washed away with the digested food (although their eggs are) and excreted in the droppings. Roundworms measure 2 to 6 cm in length and approximately 1 mm in diameter. They are visible to the unaided eye. By contrast, hairworms are considerably smaller and as fine as a hair. They are 26 mm long and only 0.08 mm in diameter.

Propagation is by the direct or indirect route. Worms with direct development
do not need an intermediate host. The eggs excreted in the droppings go through a maturation stage in the environment and are taken up "directly" by the pigeon through the feed or water. With indirect development the egg first has to enter an intermediate host (earthworm) in which maturation occurs. A larva develops in the egg. When the pigeon eats the infected earthworm, the mature eggs get into the intestine where the egg is dissolved. The larva is released and develops into a sexually mature worm in the intestine of the pigeon. The pigeons can only become infected by the ingestion of mature (infective) eggs. Here the danger of infection is greater with worms propagating "directly" than those which multiply by indirect development, since the pigeons can re-infect themselves continually from their own droppings. It always takes some time (at least one week) before eggs become infective. Regular removal of the droppings is therefore the best preventive method against worm infestation.

Deworming must be carried out as as individual treatment, for the following reasons:

• Only in this way can the anthelmintic (worm medicine) be dosed
• As a result of the high concentration over a short period, a strong effect is
achieved with a small quantity of active substance. In this way undesirable
side effects are reduced or eliminated.
• Experience has shown that with treatment thru the drinking water, some
pigeons will refuse to drink the water for up to 3 or 4 days, even if the
deworming agent only slightly modifies the taste of the water. Such birds
receive too little of the anthelmintic or none at all and remain worm
infested and re-infect the rest of the loft again.
The medicine of choice is: Ivomec Cattle Wormer Injectable. Best on the
market today. Effective against all worms, except tapeworms. For individual
treatment. 3 drops down the throat, 2 or 3 times a year. Even helps against
external parasites.

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