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Pigeon

Paratyphoid (Salmonella infection)

Importance

Paratyphoid is a pigeon disease caused by Salmonella. Although common in pigeon flocks, it often goes undetected.

Paratyphoid in pigeons is a bacterial infection caused by Salmonella typhimurium var. copenhagen. The extent of its transmission to hatchlings via the egg or the crop milk of infected parent birds is often underestimated. Because unhatched chicks and nestlings are particularly susceptible to Salmonella infection, the highest rates of loss and damage can be expected in this age range. Poor rearing conditions and accompanying circumstances can lead to total losses of young pigeons or cause long-term damage and depressed performance.

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However, in many cases infection produces no clinical symptoms. Instead, it often causes a latent infection in the flock. Experts believe at least 50 % of pigeon lofts to be affected. Indeed, research conducted by IDT Biologika Animal Health in 2002 detected the pathogen in 100 % of show birds.

Rates of Salmonella-related health and performance problems in pigeon flocks cannot be expected to decline within the next few years.

Because control of the disease is difficult, prevention is exceptionally important.

Causes

Paratyphoid in pigeons is caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhimurium var. copenhagen, which is detected in over 95 % of all Salmonella infections in pigeons.

Paratyphoid is mainly transmitted orally, for example via ingestion of the bacterium from feed or drinking water contaminated with faeces. However, it can also be carried on particles of dust or transmitted via the ovaries of infected females to the egg, and from there to the young birds. Transmission via crop milk is also possible.

The problems posed by Salmonella infection in pigeons are mainly due to the pathogen´s ability to linger for months within the body. During this time, the pathogen is shed either continuously or intermittently, both by symptomatic birds and those with a latent infection.

Repeat infection by chronic shedders is therefore inevitable, especially if birds lack full protection.

Symptoms

Different types of damage in various organs (intestines, joints, brain, etc.) can be observed in adult birds. Limping and flying crooked point to joint inflammation in legs and wings. Head tilting or twisting and disorientation are suggestive of central nervous system disorders. Other clinical symptoms of paratyphoid disease are diarrhoea and, in the case of joint inflammation, swollen, hot and painful leg or wing joints.

Prevention

General principles:

  • Vaccination should be carried out in the whole flock, not just in birds with particular uses (racing team, show birds) or in specific age groups (e.g. breeding pairs).
  • Only whole-flock vaccination stops dangerous pathogens from spreading and passing from pigeon to pigeon.
  • Only extensive vaccination coverage (ideally 100%) can be relied on to break chains of infection.
  • Vaccinations should be given in good time before the start of the breeding, racing or showing season.
  • Young birds are particularly susceptible to infectious diseases. If disease can be prevented by vaccination, it should be carried out as soon as possible.

Eine Taube mit Salmonellose zeigt asymptomatische Haltung

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