Pigeon Diseases Prevention And Treatment

Pigeon Diseases:

For proper loft management and for reducing losses, a fancier must familiarize himself with major and more common Pigeon Diseases, especially with signs and symptoms of such diseases, so that they could treat their pigeons properly. The disease may be described as a condition different from the state of normal health of a pigeon. Therefore, it is beneficial and essential to examine whether a pigeon is healthy or suffer from some malady. To do this following guidelines may be followed.

  1.  Normal pigeons are active and lively; Laziness and lethargy betray disease or some disorder. And so does limp and abnormal gait.
  2.  Except for very old ones, healthy pigeons have clean feathers and appearance, and their bodies are without any smudges and smears. Sticky feathers indicate that pigeon suffers from some disease or disorder of the eye or down below the mouth.
  3.  The usually closed beak remains open, and breathing becomes irregular, and there is ocular and nasal
  4.  The eyes of a very sick bird become dull and listless. These also lose color, becoming whitish. The eyelids may droop, start exuding viscous fluid or close altogether. In some cases, only one eye is affected.
  5.  Mandibles of a healthy pigeon are usually clean and dry. Sticky upper and lower beaks are indicative of an infection of the mouth or parts down below.
  6.  Pigeon becomes light and bony, and breast muscles shrink. A pigeon’s wings droop, and there is a swelling of the wings and or leg joints.
  7.  The standard color and texture of scales on the leg and feet changes, and there is some extraneous growth. Toes swell and get twisted and deformed.
  8.  Droppings lose their normal color turning slimy, greenish, brownish, or reddish. These also become loose and watery and may contain
    undigested food. Whitish or cream-colored sticky vents and droppings indicate body fat consumption, either by malfunctioning the body systems by disease or by fatigue, hunger, etc.
  9.  Rectal temperature rise above the standard 107 degrees F.

The occurrence of disease in any loft is almost inevitable. Whereas we introduce it inadvertently, quite often, we know that we are doing so. One such way is the addition of a pigeon that we know is suffering from some infectious disease. Unfortunately, many fanciers are so overconfident of their expertise and power to cure all diseases. Such fanciers cause trouble for their pigeons and, therefore, for themselves.

Types Of Pigeon Diseases:

Diseases can be classified as Infectious Diseases that are caused by infection and can spread from one pigeon to many others. Non-Infectious Diseases that do not spread from one individual to the other. Followings are the most common pigeon diseases. We will describe them here briefly.


Paratyphoid pigeons Disease, called wing paralysis, and leg paralysis are infectious diseases caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhimurium var, Copenhagen. This pathogen also attacks other birds and animals, including man, although quite rarely. The disease causes an epidemic in young pigeons, the surviving ones becoming carriers to spread it to others. Disease organisms are mostly introduced by pigeons brought from other lofts. The pathogen spreads through contaminated feed and water and carrier pigeons feeding the young.

Salmonella mainly settles in the intestine and move with the help of a single flagellum from one part of the pigeon’s body to the other; disease taking different forms according to the body part they attack. In the intestinal form, the pathogen penetrates the intestine wall and causes severe inflammation and impairing its function.

The pigeon discharge brownish or greenish slimy watery droppings that may contain undigested food. Diarrhea caused is similar to the resulting from infestation by worms, cocci, or even by poisoning. Since the supply of nutrients from the intestine to the blood is cut down, the pigeon starts drawing on body reserves; first tapping carbohydrates, then fats, and finally muscle proteins, the disease causes weakness and emaciation.

From the intestine, the pathogen travels to various parts of the body and may reach the navel, wing and leg joints, and footpads, making the wing droop and or cause lameness. It is also called a joint or articular form of the disease.

In case of organ involvement form, bacteria carried by the blood may settle in various body parts, especially in the liver, spleen, kidneys, heart, pancreas, etc., disrupting their normal function. The pigeon does not show many external signs but becomes sluggish, listless, and ultimately dies. The pathogen may also infect the testes and the ovary, causing permanent infertility. Infected eggs may again fail to hatch.

When salmonellae attack nerve cells of the brain and bone marrow, the result is the loss of balance and even paralysis. In the case of torsion of the neck, recovery is sometimes impossible. This nervous or meningeal form of the disease produces symptoms similar to those created by paramyxoviruses.

Prevention And Treatment:

Control of the disease consists of improved hygienic conditions, including sprays, keeping away rodents, insects, etc., removing carrier pigeons, and medication. Sick pigeons can treat with some drugs available from veterinary medical stores. Drugs such as Furazolidone, Furaltadone, Inrofloxacin, Oxytetracycline, Streptomycin, Erythromycin, and Tylosin are available singly or in various combinations. The dose and instructions are available on the packets or containers. Providing calcium in grit or otherwise during treatment should be avoided as the latter binds most of the former antibiotics and makes these unavailable to the body.

Veterinary experts have also found the following drugs for poultry and human beings to be quite effective against Paratyphoid. One Quintec 400 mg tablet, one Flagyl 250 mg tablet, and one Bevidox tablet mixed with one tsp of wheat flour to form 6 pellets and fed one each to 6 pigeons for seven days. This dose should be administered for another three days after two days interval. Pigeons under treatment should be provided Multivitamins with Minerals during treatment-free days.

In Meningeal form, wing and leg paralysis use 1/10 Nootropil 800 mg capsule for eight days and 1/4 Valium-2 daily for four days. Another highly effective medicine is Enrofloxacin . 1 ml of this liquid in 2 liters of drinking water or three drops per pigeon given orally for 3 to 5 days to be quite effective. It is useful to provide Vitamins and Minerals to pigeons under treatment. Lysovit syrup at the rate of 1 tbsp per 4 liters of water is quite useful. Using probiotics also helps in speedy recovery. Nowadays, vaccines are available which are highly effective against Paratyphoid.

Pigeon Paramyxovirus Infection:

Paramyxovirus disease is perhaps the most dangerous virulent infectious viral pigeon disease. It is a comparatively recent disease caused by the mutated form of Virus causing Newcastle Diseaed ND. Its also called the Rani Khet disease of Poultry. The mutated form of ND Virus, known as Paramyxorirus Type-1 causing the disease, does not infect Poultry. Paramyxovirus infections are also called Paramyxo, PMV-1, and Parainfluenza.

The disease occurs in any part of the year, Pigeons of all ages are susceptible, but younger ones suffer the most and are killed outright. It also attacks some other birds, including Sparrows, Quails, etc.PMV-I is transmitted through direct contact and indirectly through contaminated dust and equipment, including water pots, feeders, etc. It also spread through rats and Mice’s droppings, insects including Lice, Mites, Cockroaches, etc. Pigeon fanciers visiting lofts with infected pigeons may carry the Virus to their Loft on their clothes, hands, and shoes.

The disease takes one or two weeks to develop after infection. Losses are usually very high. In comparison, young pigeons die outright adults and older—the disease effect liver,s lungs, digestive system, etc. Loss of weight and excessive mortality are some other signs that are common with other diseases. Nervous disorders may also be found in the last stages.

Signs And Symptoms:

The disease’s signs and symptoms consist of abnormal thirst, loose greenish droppings, loss of form, laziness, ruffled feathers, and difficulty locomotion, especially in flying. In the case of a nervous form, head trembling makes it very difficult for the pigeons to pick up grains. Affected pigeons also feel difficulty in drinking. Wings or legs, or both, may suffer from temporary or permanent paralysis.


Preventive measures require maximum attention. The first and foremost precaution is to keep away the pathogen from one’s loft and pigeons or keep its population down. Can achieve this by taking the following steps:

  1. Take all possible measures to keep the loft free of lice, mites, flies, mosquitos, and other insects, as they are mechanical carriers for the pathogen.
  2. The ceiling, walls, and floor of the loft should be scrubbed, cleaned, and sprayed with disinfectants. Must ensure that the disinfectants used are also effective against the virus.
  3.  Loft surroundings should also be swept clean and sprayed the same way.
  4.  Wiled birds and feral pigeons must not be allowed to enter or sit at the loft.
  5.  New pigeons must be vaccinated, kept separate for at least 15 days, and observed for any sign of disease.
  6. Watering pots and feeders are washed and appropriately disinfected every day.
  7. Extra care should be taken for feeding and watering pigeons so that they are capable of resisting and fighting disease. Electrolytes and Vitamins are quite helpful.
  8.  Preventive measures are the best course of action to adopt to stop an outbreak of the disease, and vaccination is the best preventive measure.


Effective anti-Paramyxovirus pigeon vaccines have been developed now. CHEVI VAC and NEW VAC of Chevita company and COLUMBOVAC-PMV of Fort Dodge Animal Health Limited UK are the most effective vaccines. Most Pigeon Vaccines producers for Paramyxovirus claim that their products produce immunity in pigeons for one year.

The virus causing Newcastle disease or Rani Khet disease in poultry is quite different from attacking pigeons. Pakistani and Indian pigeons fanciers also use poultry vaccines for this disease. There are two famous poultry vaccines: Mukteswar Strain Vaccine, and the other is Lasota Strain Vaccine. These vaccines create immunity for about two months. These locally available vaccines are very cheap and as effective as very costly imported vaccines.

Pigeon Pox:

Pigeon Pox is a contagious viral pigeon disease that takes a heavy toll on young pigeons, sometimes sweeping away entire broods. It characterizes by wart-like eruptions on the feather-less portion of the skin and thickened yellowish patches on the mucous membranes of internal parts of the host’s body, especially the mouth. It occurs worldwide and is also known as Bird Pox.

The disease causes by Genus Avipox that has some species attacking various birds. Avipox virus does not infect man. The virus is tolerant of heat up to 60 degrees C. If dried scabs peals, the virus remains infective for months. Pigeon Pox virus enters the skin when it punctures by a cut or pierces by a mosquito or some other insect. Through such cuts, the virus enters the bloodstream, multiplies there through various phases, and comes back to the outer skin and mucosa to cause localized proliferation.

There is no particular season for Pox infection, but it generally coincides with an increase in the population of Mosquitoes and other mechanical carriers of this pathogen. However, it is at its peak in summer, especially from March to May.

Prevention And Treatment:

It recommends that we should use netting to keep out Mosquitoes from the loft. It is not very practical as this mechanical carrier also attacks pigeons in the daylight. Can keep Mosquitoes away by using any repellent spray. Killing mites, lice, and other biting insects are also essential. In case of an outbreak of the disease following measures prove useful.

  1.  Pigeons can treat via drinking water by adding one gram of Tylodox powder in one liter of water for five days and then repeating it once a week for four weeks.
  2.  Individual pigeons can treat to avoid infection by other pathogens by mixing one powdered Claricid 250 mg tablets, one Vibramycine capsule, one Bevidox tablet, one deltacortril 5 mg tablet, and one Flagyl 200 mg tablet and feeding 1/15 of this powder to each pigeon for five days.
  3.  In case of severely infected skin or mucosal form of the disease, its deposits should be removed daily and affected parts brushed with 5% Pyodine solution five ml in 100 ml of water.
  4.  Cortisporin or Polyfax eye-ointments can use in case of disease involving eyes and sticking eye-lids.
  5.  Pigeon pox vaccines are available now. Pigeon fanciers can also use the following procedure for preparing their home-made vaccine. Take an egg laid by a hen that was infected by the Pigeon Pox in the past. Separate its yolk from its white and aspirate it in a disposable syringe. Add three ml of distilled water in an Amoxyl 250 mg injection and mix thoroughly. Add one ml of aspirated yolk to the above mixture and shake well. Inject .3 ml of the above preparation with the help of an insulin syringe to each pigeon. Keep the leftover in a fridge but use it within 24 hours and prepare fresh material for vaccinating the rest of the pigeons.

Infectious Catarrh or Coryza:

Infectious Catarrh or Mycoplasmosis, popularly known as CRD, is a respiratory Pigeon disease caused by three Mycoplasma species, a bacteria-like organism. It is a slow but chronic infection disease of pigeons and other birds, which is also called Air Sac Infection and Pleuropneumonia Infection of pigeons.

A severe outbreak occurs when pigeons lose resistance due to adverse factors, including other diseases and physical strain. The disease takes a long time to kill, but mortality may be considerable.

The pathogen has no preference for age or sex. The disease frequently appears with Ornithosis. Initially, flight performance gets affected due to the mouth getting blocked with excessive mucous, and the pigeon breaths through an open beak. It also may emit rattling, and wheezing sounds hear particularly at night when it is relatively calm and noiseless. Awkward flight, Nasal discharge, and watery eyes are also suggestive.

The disease spreads through direct and indirect contact through pigeons, equipment, droppings, feed, and drinking water, as well as through sneezing.

Prevention And Treatment:

Several antibiotics like Terramycin, Streptomycin, Furazolidone, Chlortetracycline, Chloromycetin, Neomycin, and Penicillin have been effective in that order. Since infectious Catarrh and Ornithosis usually co-occur, pigeons may be treated for that disease as well.

Feeding one-tenth of one powdered Leflox 250 mg tablet, one Vibramycin 150 mg capsule, and one powdered Flagyl 200 mg tablet to each Pigeon quite useful. May reduce this dose according to the age of the Pigeon. It is helpful to prepare ten pellets with Wheat flour. However, pellets so prepared must be used within an hour at the most.


Ornithosis is also called Avian Chlamydiosis or Chlamydia Infection, Psittacosis, Parrot Fever, and Bedsonia. It is a sub-clinical, infectious, transmissible respiratory bacterial Pigeon disease of chronic and sometimes widespread pigeons. The causal agent is a bacterium known as Chlamydia Psittaci, which also infects many other birds, animals, and man. According to some authorities, most cases of human being infection were found connected with pigeons.

Pigeons contract the disease by breathing in dust containing the pathogen, eating contaminated feed and drinking water and loft equipment, and feeding of nestlings by infected pigeons.

Infected adult pigeons become weak, listless, and emaciated. They suffer from green diarrhea but survive. Birds under four months show similar symptoms with sticky vents and die ultimately. Any pigeon showing ocular and or nasal discharge may be suspected of the disease. A single infected pigeon in the loft is a sure sign of infection of other pigeons.

Prevention And Treatment:

No medication is available at present for the total eradication of the disease. Chlortetracycline at the rate of 100 mg/lb of feed has been recommended for at least a month. Doxycycline, Rifamycin, and Rifampicin have also been recommended and recommended 1 gram Tylodox powder in 1 liter of water for five days. Sulfacetamide Sodium 20% or some other eye drops can be used quite effectively for the eyes’ infection.

Avian Tuberculosis:

Tuberculosis is a sporadic contagious infectious disease of birds, animals, and humans caused by Bacteria. Its causal agent in pigeons is Mycobacterium tuberculosis avian. Old infected pigeons, other birds, and premises are the source of infection. These Bacteria are ingested with infected feed and droppings and also get inhaled. It is a long drawn out disease that usually ends in death if not treated properly. Feathers of the infected pigeons become rough and dull. Diarrhea develops along with lameness, emaciation, and sunken eye-balls. Hard tumor-like masses may form on leg or wing joints.

Prevention And Treatment:

Precautionary measures are the same as for previous diseases. Should kept new pigeons for at least twenty days in quarantine. As disinfection with germicides alone is not sufficient, therefore, use of flame throwers is recommended. Killing all pigeons in infected loft and burning all wooden fittings has also been suggested by several experts.

Pigeon Chick Disease Or Omphalitus:

Pigeon chick disease or disorder or Omphalitis is an infection of Navel. This infection can occur in the Navel when the chick is still in the egg, and the nest is dirty. Unhatched eggs are a sign of this disease, as chicks die before hatching due to infection. Death of the chicks within ten days of hatching is also suggestive. Squabs have pasty blood-tinged vents.

Prevention And Treatment:

No remedies suggest avoiding the problem by keeping the loft, especially the nest boxes, clean, dry, and disinfected. However, in case of a disease outbreak following treatment can be resorted to Sparfloxacin one 100 mg tablet. Augmentin one 350 mg tablet. Flagyl one 200 mg tablet. All the above medicines are finely powdered and filled in 10 capsules, One capsule fed to each pigeon for five days. The dose should be repeated after two days if required. These capsules must be kept dry and used within a week.


Colibacillosis is also called Coliform Infection. It is a Bacterial disease of birds, animals, and humans, caused by Escherichia Coli, gram-negative Bacteria. In the case of pigeons, it is not a severe disease. Escherichia spread through infected pigeons and other birds. Feces on the eggshell are considered a significant cause of infection of an embryo. Contamination also persists in the dry dust of the loft and rodent droppings. Pigeons may not be attacked but act as a carrier of this pathogen. Signs may include early mortality of chicks, general weakness, unthriftiness, and nasal and ocular discharge.

Prevention And Treatment:

Adequate sanitation, reduced dust and ammonia, and overcrowding are some preventive measures. Over drugging should also be avoided as it weakens the birds and makes them vulnerable to this and other diseases. One capsule of Chlormycitin and one powdered 200 mg Flagyl tablet divided into five equal parts fed to five pigeons for five days can prove useful.

Fowl Cholera:

Fowl Cholera is a sporadic, not very common, infective bacterial disease of pigeons but a severe poultry disease and many other birds. It also calls Avian Pasteurellosis, as Pasteurella causes it.

It is a respiratory disease and a permanent sinus infection. Nasal and ocular discharge, swollen sinuses and eyes, dirty neck feathers/hackles are suggestive, as are listlessness, lack of activity, and death. Neck twisting may also result if the pathogen attacks the middle ear.

Prevention And Treatment:

For preventing disease, infected and new birds should be kept separate. Feed and water containers should be free of droppings. Should avoid the entry of feral pigeons, cats, rats, especially sick birds. Disinfecting the loft properly and keeping it vacant for about a month rids it from this pathogen.

Sulmet US Cyanamid at the rate of six grams in one liter of water for five days is quite effective. Providing Sulfaquinoxaline and Sulfadimethoxine is also useful and may be used under instructions on the product label.

Avian Arizonosis:

Avian Arizonosis is caused by Arizona Gram-negative Bacteria that infect and cause disease in Pigeons, animals, and human beings. Its symptoms resemble infection by Salmonella. The disease may occur in any season with no discrimination for sex or age. However, chicks and squabs are comparatively more susceptible. The pathogen affects Spleen, Heart, Blood Vessels, Kidneys, etc. It enters through mouth or body cuts and expellees through droppings; Squabs kills within seven to eight days of becoming ill.

Pigeons, other birds, and animals act as carriers harboring the pathogens in the Intestine. The disease spreads just like Salmonella through eggs; and also through feed containing Rat droppings. Adult pigeons may not show any signs, but affected pigeons become weak and listless and have Diarrhoea, swelling of Navel, and pasted Vents. Shivering and trembling are also indicative. Internally the Spleen and the liver may get enlarged due to inflammation.

Prevention and Treatment:

Preventive measures and treatment are the same as for Paratyphoid. Treatment suggested for Salmonella infection is equally useful for this disease.


Botulism is a bacterial Pigeon Diseases. It is also called Food Sickness and Limber-Neck disease. The disease causes by a toxin produced by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum ingested by the victim. Its found in moist soil and stagnant water. Pigeons of all breeds and ages can be affected, but pigeons that fly about and have access to wet soils and stagnant water ponds are more susceptible. Infected pigeons show a paralysis of legs, wings, and necks, which often become limp. Feathers pull out easily.

Prevention And Treatment:

Preventive measures are only useful as there is no medical remedy. Should remove Dead pigeons and decayed food. Washing the crop with a weak solution of common salt also helps.


Aspergillosis is a fungal pigeon disease that attacks animals and also the man. Some species of Aspergillus causes it. It is also called Pneumomycosis. This fungus causes chronic infection of the Lungs and Air Sacs, and sometimes skin. It spreads through its spores, from which it grows and starts infection and disease.

Since young nestlings lie on the floor and nest boxes contaminated with fungal spores; and have not yet developed immunity, they are more prone to infection than adults. Sex makes no difference. Infected pigeons show signs of respiration difficulty and rapid breathing, listlessness, ruffled feathers, and sometimes diarrhea. Pigeons suffering from skin infections constantly preen their feathers. The disease causes patches of lung tissue to become whitish and solid. And these lead to the death of the infected pigeons.

Prevention And Treatment:

Preventive measures consist of cleanliness and improved hygienic conditions, especially aeration. Should pay special attention to keeping the loft, especially its floor, completely dry. No medication recommends as none is effective against infection of Lung and Air Sac. Can treat a skin infection with a weak solution of copper sulfate. Mixing alum, pinky, and pyodine in bath water are helpful.


Thrush is a chronic infectious fungal pigeon disease, and other birds like Quails, Parakeets, Chickens, Pheasants, etc. The causal agent is the fungus Candida albicans. The disease spreads through free-flying birds like Crows, Sparrows, etc.; and by infected pigeons, through drinking water. Dirty feeders are also a source of infection. The pathogen enters through the mouth, and its spores are shed orally and through droppings.

The main signs and symptoms of the disease are puffed up crop with bad-smelling contents. Pigeons become sluggish and lack the desire to move. They stop eating and also vomit. Other signs consist of ruffled feathers and retarded squab growth.

Prevention And Treatment:

Preventive measures consist of improving hygienic conditions, disinfection of the loft and feeding and watering equipment with 500 mg of potassium sulfate in one liter of water, and separating sick pigeons from the healthy ones, etc. Treatment with the ordinary saltwater described elsewhere usually proves to be quite useful.
1/4 of Fluconazole per pigeon is also recommended by some vets for this pigeon disease. Two to three drops per pigeon of Nystatin, formerly Mycostain 20, proves quite useful. 1/10 part of a 200 mg Nizoral tablet and 200 mg Flagyl tablet given to each pigeon for ten days may also prove to be quite helpful.


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