Pox - Avian Pox - Fowl Pox

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Pox - Avian Pox - Fowl Pox

Post by Katy on Sat Oct 01, 2011 3:56 pm

Fowl Pox
Also called – avian pox, cutaneous pox, sore head.

Comes in two versions - dry pox and wet pox. These pictures are of a case of dry pox.


Common in late summer in Australia, especially in warmer areas that get a lot of mosquitoes.

Incubation period 4 – 14 days. Lasts for 3 – 5 weeks in affected birds. Can be transmitted through skin wounds such as insect bites, dubbing, fighting, or injury. Can also spread by means of feathers and scabs from infected birds. Can spread slowly from bird to bird, but usually spreads quickly when lots of mosquitoes are present.

Symptoms: The bird usually gets a bit quiet, sometimes shows respiratory symptoms, perhaps loses its appetite, then a few days later you might notice the pox lesions. They occur mainly on unfeathered areas like the head (including comb, wattles and occasionally beak, vent, and possibly legs). The sores begin looking like a blister or a pimple which fill with fluid and then pus. Then they burst and a crust or scab forms over it.

Treatment is just supportive care. Make sure the bird is in uncrowded housing; remove scabs around mouth and eyes so birds can eat. Put an antiseptic like betadine on the sores. Rickets diet can be helpful. Sometimes the pox lesions can cause them to be blind, so you need to make sure they can find their waterers and feeders. Reduce stress.

Be aware that secondary respiratory infections can occur which require antibiotics. [33 mg oxytetracycline (Terramycin) per gallon of drinking water for 3 days followed by vitamin supplement in water - recommended by Gail Damerow in The Chicken Health Handbook.] A probiotic after antibiotics can also be helpful.

Birds naturally recover in 2 to 4 weeks and are immune, but some remain carriers and may become reinfected during times of stress. Thoroughly clean housing after outbreak to remove all infective scabs. Deal with the mosquito population.

Quite often books show heavy lesions on combs like this:


Most of the time I see fewer such as this: Pox on Comb

Flatter Pox lesion actually under lower beak. It's fairly unusual to see this.

At first glance this looks like an infected eye from respiratory infection, but it is actually a pox on the swollen conjunctiva. The tissue which is normally small and tucked into the front corner of the eye is swollen and covering part of the eye ball. The pox is developing on that tissue. The eyeball itself is never affected:

It is possible to vaccinate for pox, and vaccination can be done at any age. Two treatments are usually required and the vaccine is give with a two prong needle into the flap of skin on the wing. You need to watch the site and see if a small pox develops to be sure of a ‘take’.

Vaccines are usually sold in very large doses (eg. suitable for 1000 birds), and also have particular transport requirements that make it expensive to obtain them. Possible sources of vaccine information:

Some local hatcheries will vaccinate birds for backyarders at a small costs at the same time as doing their own, so it is sometimes worthwhile contacting them to enquire.

It is worth noting that many breeders choose not to vaccinate for a variety of reasons.

Posts : 130
Join date : 2011-09-30
Location : Morayfield QLD


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