Fowl Pox, also known as Avian Pox, is a mild to severe, slow developing disease of birds caused by an avipoxvirus and three common strains have been identified. The three strains are fowl pox virus, pigeon pox virus and canary pox virus. The strains vary in their virulence and have the ability to infect other avian species. However, many of the strains are group specific. Approximately sixty species of birds from 20 families have been diagnosed with avian pox. The strain seen in wild turkeys is the fowl pox virus. Avian pox lesions (wart-like growths) occur on the unfeathered parts of the bird's body and, in some cases, the mouth, larynx, and/or trachea.
Avian pox has been observed in a variety of avian hosts worldwide. The disease is most common in the temperate (warm and humid) parts of the world and is usually observed in relation to seasonal mosquito cycles. Avian pox has been diagnosed in upland game birds, songbirds (mourning doves and finches), marine birds, pet birds(canaries and parrots),chickens, Turkeys, occasionally raptors and rarely in waterfowl. It is a viral disease and most all North American cases have been recent.
There are two forms of fowl pox.These two forms are either cutaneous (dry) or diphtheritic (wet). In the cutaneous form (dry pox) clinical signs include the development of proliferative lesions, ranging from small nodules to spherical wart-like masses on the skin of the comb, wattle and other unfeathered areas. It is the most commonly observed and is a self-limiting infection with the lesions regressing and forming scars. In the diphtheritic form (wet pox), clinical signs include slightly elevated white opaque nodules develop on the mucous membranes of the mouth and trachea. They rapidly increase in size to become a yellowish diphtheritic membrane. A diphtheritic membrane forms and may restrict air intake and result in labored breathing and possible suffocation.
Lesions will occur on the mucous membranes of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, and trachea.
Raised whitish colored bumps on comb, wattles, face, and eyelids that turn yellow, and eventually scab over before healing up.
Treatment and Control
- Isolate infected birds, but there is no treatment except removing scabs around the mouth, and eyes, so the birds can see to eat. You have to just let this run its course.
- If you have wet pox, you may need to clean any kind of discharge that interferes with breathing.
- To prevent secondary infections, treat with Terramycin, and Vitamin Supplements.
- This can be vaccinated against if it is prevalent in your area.
- Applying black shoe polish, toothpaste, iodine, or sharpies to the lesions has been said to aide in drying them out.