How to spot paramyxovirus infection in pigeons, what to do if you suspect it and measures to prevent its spread.
Pigeon paramyxovirus (PPMV) usually affects pigeons.
It doesn’t normally affect humans.
The disease is currently present in Great Britain.
Pigeon paramyxovirus infection is a notifiable disease. That means if you suspect it you must tell the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) immediately. Failure to do so is an offence.
How to spot pigeon paramyxovirus infection
Signs of paramyxovirus infection in pigeons may include:
- nervous sings, including trembling wings and heads, and twisting of the neck
- partial paralysis of wings and legs (birds may fall over on landing and be unable to feed)
- unusually wet and liquidy faeces (diarrhoea) that are often greenish in colour
- quietness, loss of appetite and reluctance to move
The disease is very contagious so it is common for most of the pigeons sharing a loft to display clinical signs at the same time.
How paramyxovirus is spread
The disease is spread by direct contact between pigeons and through:
- pigeon transporters that have not been adequately cleaned and disinfected
- drinking water in lofts and transporters
- pigeon fanciers carrying infection on their clothes, hands and feet
The disease can be introduced to a loft of kept pigeons through contact with wild pigeons.
The disease can be spread to chickens if, for example, their feed is infected with the faeces of infected pigeons. In chickens paramyxovirus can cause Newcastle disease.
Preventing and controlling paramyxovirus infection in pigeons
You can help prevent the disease by:
- vaccinating your pigeons against the disease - talk to your vet for advice (if you run pigeons shows or races, you must ensure any bird taking part has been vaccinated)
- practising strict biosecurity on your premises
If you organise a pigeon show or race you must make sure only vaccinated pigeons take part.
If you own racing pigeons, you must keep a record of every show or race each bird takes part in.
If you report suspicion of paramyxovirus infection in a pigeon APHA vets will investigate.
If the disease is confirmed, APHA will impose temporary restrictions.
Further information on prevention and control
Legislation on paramyxovirus
Paramyxovirus is covered by the Diseases of Poultry (England) Order 2003.