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The head of a pigeon showing symptoms of pox at the beak and on the eyelid

Scabby fissured skin proliferations in pox at the beak angle and on the eyelid: Secondary bacterial pathogens can settle in the skin fissures and lead to pus formation.

The opened beak of a pigeon showing the mucosal form of pox.

Mucosal form of pox: This condition can easily be confused with canker. Unlike canker, mucosal pox are proliferations of the skin which have firmly grown into the underlying tissue.

Specific infectious diseases

Pigeon Pox

Pox occur in pigeon flocks and feral pigeons worldwide. Increased incidence of pigeon pox is observed in humid summer and warm winter weather.

The pigeon pox virus produces typical skin and mucosal changes in pigeons. It is not infectious for humans and other mammals.

Symptoms of the disease:
There are two forms of pigeon pox:

The infection usually takes a benign course, providing the skin and mucosal changes - which can also manifest simultaneously - remain confined to the local infection sites. The general condition is impaired if the virus enters the bloodstream and colonises the internal organs. Pox disease lasts for around 3-4 weeks, or even several weeks or months in undernourished pigeons. Secondary bacterial infections may complicate the disease processes.

Recognition of the disease:
The two forms of pox can be identified relatively easily from the typical proliferations or deposits on the skin and mucosa. If the disease is suspected, confirmation is obtained by microscopic examination of affected tissue for so-called "Bollinger inclusions", which contain large quantities of the virus.

Similar conditions:
Trichomoniasis ("Canker"), Ornithosis, Infectious Catarrh ("Coryza").

As with other viral diseases, it is not possible to treat pigeon pox itself.

Only active immunisation (see annual prevention plan: pigeon pox vaccination plan) protects the pigeons, which then develop a stable immunity within 4 weeks.

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