Newsletter Pigeon March 2012

The topic of the last newsletter was the scientific aspect of variola viruses. In this newsletter I will address the more practical aspects of this infection.

Practical notes.

The past few years showed more and more variola outbreaks. It used to happen that when there was a sudden outbreak, everybody panicked and vaccinated their pigeons. This caused some sort of graft blanket over the pigeons, which made sure that the next year there were almost none outbreaks. And because the pigeons do not suffer from the pox, the vaccinations dropped. Many called out that the variola had been eradicated. But after a few years when the resistance against variola was low, there were massive outbreaks among the pigeons and the whole history repeated itself again.

The last few years variola occurs not just when we expect it in the after summer and the early fall, but sometimes from April through October. Personally, last year I spotted the first case of smallpox in March and the last in late November. We can hardly speak of a seasonal disease. This does not mean that the outbreaks of smallpox were substantially dramatic, the greater part of the infections were not that severe, but the lingering course which seems to be bounded to the smallpox infections makes acting resolute and preventive really necessary. Surely, a variola outbreak happens on the most inopportune time.

When there is a variola outbreak, you can act in two ways.

Newsletter February 2012

In my previous newsletters, i indicated that there are a number of pathogens threatening our pigeons. Viruses are in a sense problematic, because of the usually few curatives (healing) can be undertaken. In case of a virus infection we can only treat the secondary infection to minimalize the discomfort for the pigeon. The only way to prevent these attackers is vaccination. But this is only possible if there's a vaccine available. In a few cases there are still no vaccines, not yet anyway. An example is the Circovirus. There is today no vaccine available for this virus, with serious consequences. I will explain in the following newsletters the most common viruses.

In this newsletter I will address the smallpox virus. In the first part of this newsletter I will explain the scientific side of this virus.


1. Scientific information

2. Personal comments - practice

Scientific information

Small pox among pigeons is caused by Avipox columbae. The virus is host specific, but related to chicken- and turkey pox. This is called the so called typical pox.  There are also atypical variola infections. One of these atypical variola infections is the blood wart virus. This virus is not likely to be related to the typical variola. It causes the well-known