Detection and treatment of smallpox in pigeons

In pigeon breeding, among pests that spread rapidly among birds, smallpox is often found in pigeons. Although it does not lead to death, it causes a lot of trouble to poultry houses.


Pigeon pox nature

Otherwise called yellow cork and diphtheria, pigeon in pigeons is a widely known disease in veterinary medicine of birds, which often proceeds in chronic forms and progresses from one to several months.

Smallpox pigeons can flow in two forms, which are called:

  • skin, or smallpox,
  • diphtheria.

Often there is a course of smallpox in a mixed form.

The largest number of cases of smallpox diseases is recorded between April and June, when young animals are hatched, and pigeon breeders begin to train birds.

Pigeons infected with smallpox virus feel the initial clinical symptoms only after at least 2-3 weeks after the infection has entered the body. At the same time, the clinical picture begins only with a general deterioration, when the activity decreases in birds, lethargy is manifested, the plumage of plumage and drooping wings are noted. Subsequently, various changes in the mucous membranes and skin are observed.

Cutaneous development

Smallpox in pigeons in this form of course is distinguished by its characteristic symptoms:

  • on the skin in places of viral ingestion, there are traces of the appearance of primary pockmarks, outwardly resembling round, slightly rising red spots,
  • subsequently, the primary smallpox transforms into hardenings of yellow with a gray tint or red with a brown tint.

Among the places prone to the most frequent damage, the following stand out:

  • beak base
  • mouth corners
  • areas around the nose and eyes
  • ear holes
  • paws and fingers.

As they breed, the smallpox virus begins to spread, penetrating all tissues, where fresh smallpox formations form under its influence.

At risk are diseases of the skin form of pigeons of postal species.

The timely form of the course with timely treatment ends favorably, without dangerous consequences for the bird, forming a lifelong immunity to smallpox.

Development of smallpox in diphtheria form

The diphtheria form of the course of smallpox in pigeons causes the greatest concern in veterinary medicine and pigeon breeding, as it is the most severe, and it takes longer to treat it. Symptoms of this type include:

  • damage to the mucous membranes of the mouth and nose, infraorbital fossa, larynx, goiter with small, well-visible round spots of yellow and white color,
  • proliferation of primary smallpox and their formation into soft porridge-like or hard dry films.

Over the past 2-3 years, pigeon breeders have noted an increasing number of cases of the spread of the disease in diphtheria in the direction from the west to the east, from the epidemiological points of Moldova and Ukraine towards Central Russia.

Smallpox films with this form of the disease deeply grow into the mucous membranes under the tongue, on the cheeks, in the mouth corners, in the palate and goiter, in the larynx and trachea. In this case, the area of ​​the larynx is most often affected by smallpox virus, which leads to difficulty in breathing and provokes the sounds made by pigeons with wheezing and groans, feeding problems.

A mixed course of smallpox in pigeons exhibits symptoms of both skin form and diphtheria.

Infected with smallpox virus of the nasal cavity, inflammatory processes in the lacrimal canals, infraorbital fossa, serous and purulent discharge are observed, which, when dried, close the nasal passages, making breathing difficult.

In case of visual impairment during inflammatory processes, photophobia and swelling are fixed in the eyes of birds, lacrimation and purulent exudate are observed.

The spread of smallpox among pigeons

The causative agent of smallpox in pigeons is distributed among the livestock from sick birds to healthy ones, localized in smallpox and transmitted with crusted formations from diseased individuals. The smallpox virus is sensitive to elevated temperatures and is preserved under conditions of drying and freezing.

In smallpox neoplasms, the virus continues to be active for more than 2 years at a maintained temperature of no higher than 15 ° C.

Among the smallpox virus carriers there are not only sick pigeons, it is moved with the help of insects, through feed and technical equipment used in cleaning rooms where pigeons are kept.

Among the concomitant factors that increase the risk of the occurrence and spread of smallpox disease, note:

  • non-compliance with bird nutrition, in particular vitamin A deficiency, which is responsible for the immune function and condition of the skin and mucous membranes,
  • violation of the requirements for the content and technical parameters of the premises, excessive dampness and the presence of drafts in the dovecote,
  • frequent colds in pigeons and the associated lower immunity of birds.

Diagnosis, prevention and treatment

Diagnosis of the disease allows you to separate smallpox in pigeons from diseases such as pasteurellosis, trichomoniasis and mycoplasmosis, the treatment of which involves the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Among the means of curing pigeons, antifungal medications are used.

Treatment of smallpox in pigeons is carried out using external care with medicines and folk remedies and the use of the medication method.

Outdoor treatments

They include the cleansing of visible smallpox lesions soaked in 2% boron solution or cotton swabs in the lobe. In addition, cutaneous foci are cauterized with lapis or iodine solutions, followed by lubrication with nourishing creams. The affected areas in the area of ​​the beak and pharynx are treated with small twisted cotton swabs with lugol and lozewale.

Medical measures

When deciding how and how to treat smallpox in pigeons, veterinarians for the treatment of secondary microflora are prescribed an antibiotic from the group of tetracycline, tilan or enrofloxacin, which are given to the bird for a week. Additionally, in order to cure and increase the weakened immunity of pigeons, a vitamin-amino acid preparation is introduced. Probiotics are prescribed after the course of taking antibiotics to normalize the microflora of the intestines of the bird.

To prevent the spread of the disease, drinking water is disinfected with chloramine with a concentration of 0.5-1%, or potassium permanganate with a concentration of 1 to 1000, or furatsilinom or iodinol at the rate of 100 ml per three-liter volume of water.


Prevention of smallpox in pigeons is central to pigeon breeders fighting the virus. Preventive measures primarily include:

  • proper bird keeping conditions,
  • timely and complete feeding of pigeons,
  • sanitation and disinfection in the pigeon,
  • restriction of newly acquired quarantined birds,
  • elimination of disease vectors.

In addition to organizational measures, as a prophylaxis of pigeon pox, vaccination against smallpox disease in pigeons is carried out using a domestic vaccine, the reaction to which is observed 5-8 days after injection, while immunity against smallpox disease occurs in a vaccinated bird after a week and lasts at least years from the moment the vaccine was vaccinated. For vaccinated young animals, the medicine is vaccinated a second time.


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