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Avian Pox - How To Treat Your Chickens For Avian Pox


Avian Pox
(text courtesy of Mississippi State University, photos by BYC)


Pox-3.jpgAvian pox is a relatively slow-spreading viral disease in birds, characterized by wart-like nodules on the skin and diphtheritic necrotic membranes lining the mouth and upper respiratory system. It has been present in birds since the earliest history. Mortality is not usually significant unless the respiratory involvement is marked. The disease may occur in any age of bird, at any time. Avian pox is caused by a virus of which there are at least three different strains or types; fowl pox virus, pigeon pox virus and canary pox virus. Although some workers include turkey pox virus as a distinct strain, many feel that is identical to fowl pox virus.


Each virus strain is infective for a number of species of birds. Natural occurring pox in chickens, turkeys and other domestic fowl is considered to be caused by fowl pox virus.


Fowl pox can be transmitted by direct or indirect contact. The virus is highly resistant in dried scabs and under certain conditions may survive for months on contaminated premises. The disease may be transmitted by a number of species of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can harbor infective virus for a month or more after feeding on affected birds. After the infection is introduced, it spreads within the flock by mosquitoes as well as direct and indirect contact. Recovered birds do not remain carriers.


Since fowl pox usually spreads slowly, a flock may be affected for several months. The course of the disease in the individual bird takes three to five weeks. Affected young birds are retarded in growth. Laying birds experience a drop in egg production. Birds of all ages that have oral or respiratory system involvement have difficulty eating and breathing. The disease manifests itself in one or two ways, cutaneous pox (dry form) or diphtheritic pox (wet form).


Pox-2.jpgDry pox starts as small whitish foci that develop into wart-like nodules. The nodules eventually are sloughed and scab formation precedes final healing. Lesions are most commonly seen on the featherless parts of the body (comb, wattles, ear lobes, eyes, and sometimes the feet).


Wet pox is associated with the oral cavity and the upper respiratory tract, particularly the larynx and trachea. The lesions are diphtheritic in character and involve the mucous membranes to such a degree that when removed, an ulcerated or eroded area is left.


Fowl pox is readily diagnosed on the basis of flock history and presence of typical lesions. In some cases, laboratory diagnosis by tissue or transmission studies is necessary.


There is no treatment for fowl pox. Disease control is accomplished best by preventative vaccination since ordinary management and sanitation practices will not prevent it. Several kinds of vaccines are available and are effective if used properly.


Vaccination of broilers is not usually required unless the mosquito population is high or infections have occurred previously. The chicks may be vaccinated as young as one day of age by using the wing-web method and using a one needle applicator. All replacement chickens are vaccinated against fowl pox when the birds are six to ten weeks of age. One application of fowl pox vaccine results in permanent immunity.

Comments (46)

is there a vaccine for this and what are the chances of getting it from the shot if there is one
Yes there is a vaccine and you can get it at your local feed store. I use the vaccine and have never had a bird come down with it after the vaccine was given to them. Because it is a dead virus...I think.
I currently have a rooster suffering from this. I just lost a rooster who was very ill with a respiratory illness and I am now thinking that it started with fowl pox. I have been giving the current rooster a strong antibiotic from my regular vet because he was showing respiratory illness symptoms. He is feeling much better even crowed today. Found the pox yesterday morning. There is one on each side of his head near his neck. They have become raised and very crusty. One has lost its scab and there is a substantial amount of yellow pus. I am treating it with watered down Betadyne (an iodyne I use on my horses). Will check with feed store tomorrow to see about vaccination. I can see white spots on the waddle of my polish rooster. blah.
Is this dangerous to humans or deadly to my chickens? I have noticed a few spots like the ones pictured on one of my reds now I am concerned with what vaccines they may or may not have received and if they will all be alright.
Yes there is a vaccine. My research tells me this is not contagious to humans. My experience has taught me that the pox isn't deadly but a secondary infection ie. respiratory infection can be deadly. The second rooster I wrote about earlier seems perfectly fine. The antibiotic I got from the vet worked on the respiratory infection and slowly his pox are going away. No one else in the flock is sick at this point. Fingers crossed. Have yet to vaccinate.
i am asking a question on this emergencies ... so if u have any helpful information....that yould be great THANKS YALL!!!
I have two hens with these things on their combs. Will the vaccine affect their eggs in any way? And does it have to done with a shot or is there an oral medication?
ll this information sure eases my mind. I noticed today most of my flock is suffering from these sores on their combs and wattles. I doctored it with some purple wound dressing (purple lotion) Hopefully this will help dry them out. I was almost hysterical when i noticed it, but after the doctor session and a quick trip here to BYC and my mind is at ease. Thanks community
So, the vaccine works on birds already showing symptoms, or only on birds not yet affected by pox? Also, will supportive therapy with VetRx help until recovery? THANKS!
Okay, but is the chicken still okay to eat??
is it contagious to other farm animals ( very worried)
is it contauguis to other farm animals?(worried)
Fowl pox will not get into other farm animals that are not of the avain class. It can get into other forms of birds that may be on the farm, though. You should NEVER vaccinate a bird already showing symptoms. Once the fowl pox has ran its course the bird will be immune (just like the human form) and won't get the fowl pox again. We had a huge outbreak (we have over 200 chickens) and did loose some birds. Partly due to wet pox, partly due to the heat, and partly due to the combination of both things together. You can get an antibiotic from the feed store and place it in the water bowl for the birds to keep secondary infections at bay (like respiratory infections that are normal with the pox virus), keep their pens cleaned daily, use apple cider vinegar to help neutralize the bad bacteria. Egg production will slow or halt completely but will return later (ours just started laying again). The outbreaks can be long lasting as some birds don't catch it until other birds are finally getting well. We have battled the fowl pox for almost 2 months and just today have no signs of any outbreaks on any of our birds. My plan is to do a final disinfecting cleaning tonight with a 10% bleach solution and let the pens dry before placing my birds back into them. I am fortunate enough to have enough land that I have several bird coops and runs so I am able to do this...if you are not then place the birds in a carrying cage or clean while they are free ranging for a little bit. You want the bleach to have time to dry before placing the birds back into the pens.
Since it's spread by mosquitoes, do you have to disinfect daily, or at all?
Question: Do we have to isolate the hen from the rest of the flock if she has fowl pox? One of my 5 hens have the (dry) fowl pox and I haven't seen signs on the other girls yet. Also, what is the duration of fowl pox from start to finish if it's only one bird?
Thank youall for your advice, i have noticed about half my flock has these black wart looking things on them, and a couple are lathargic ( sp?) I have started them all on Duramycin, which vet said will cure any bacterial infections.I am worried about my Peacock though. He has no signs of anything, ( keeping fingers crossed)
if this is spread by mosquitoes how do you stop it from reoccuring? What will cleaning with the bleach do?
Update: From what I was able to gather, avian pox is a contagious viral infection and not affected by antibiotics. It lasts about two weeks and does not occur suddenly, it's a slow acting thing. Cleaning the feeders, waterers, and contact surfaces with a dilution of bleach & water will effectively decontaminate the area. My hens have all gone thru cutaneous fowl pox and are doing very well. YAY! Thank you BYC!
My chickens have had these exact same lesions twice now??? I thought they are immune after the first time? Also, I didn't see an answer as to whether if it can affect us, and if we can still eat the meat and eggs while they have this? Thanks ahead of time for any answers. Don't know what I'd do without this site!
My first (stray) bantam also got fowl pox more than once; fortunately not severe infections. Re: vaccines; is this a yearly vaccine, or a one-time per bird? Is a second round required a few weeks after the first?
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