Facts and questions regarding fowl pox

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by suburbanhomesteader, Oct 16, 2008.

  1. Well, the pox has hit my flock of 21 birds; about 6 are affected.

    For info about it, see this BYC info here:


    My hens with combs (Production reds) seem to have gotten the dry form, which is much like chicken pox on kids.

    My Easter-eggers (no comb) seem to get the wet form, which is hideously pus-y in the eyes, and I understand it can spread to the lining of the nose, throat, and mouth.

    These birds are more livestock than pets, although I do not want them to suffer, and have already euthanized one bird who seemed to be having difficulty breathing (poor thing, layed her last egg for me 15 minutes before she gasped for her last breath).

    My country vet said this is just something that will have to pass, but I could give antibiotics to treat secondary infections in the wet pox. He also said vaccinating the remaining birds would not help, since there seem to be a lot of different strains of this pox out there. Do any of ya'll have thoughts on that?

    He said treating any of the lesions or treating the wet birds would mostly be liking pushing an elevator button a second time; it keeps you busy while the event is naturally taking it's course. Old-timers at the feed store say to put shoe polish or marks-a-lot on the pox marks, but I think that just covers them up so you don't have to look at them; they didn't know if that was an old-wives tale or if it really has merit.

    As for separating the birds, he said that most of them who are going to get it are probably already infected, so he would only separate the ones who are slinging a lot of pus from their eyes. From what I've read, this virus can persist a LONG time even when dry, and the scabs are literally viral hotbeds for weeks after they fall off. That means I have it all over the yard, because they free-range every night after I come home from work.

    So, my thought was that if I was going to separate the flock, wouldn't it be smartest to move the HEALTHY birds to a new, less-infected area? I don't have a secure set up for other birds, though, and I would hate to move the healthy birds to a place where varmints could get them. What do you think about those ideas?

    Also, does anyone have any idea about EFFECTIVE mosquito control? I run an organic, pesticide-free yard (except for DE) and don't want to start spraying anything, even pyrethrins. I know bug-zappers don't work, because mosquitoes are not attracted to light. I was wondering if anyone has any idea about those CO2 generators, and if any of them really work?

    Lastly, I am very concerned now that my wild-bird population is going to get this hideous plague. I have loved having a backyard flock; they are clean, have always been healthy, and there isn't even any smell which comes from their roomy coop/chunnel (about 500 square feet for 21 birds). To think that I could be affecting wild birds, who will take this on their migration, is almost more than I can bear.

    If anyone has lived through an outbreak in a moderate-sized flock, I would love to hear from you.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2008
  2. onthespot

    onthespot Deluxe Dozens

    Mar 29, 2008
    Riverside/Norco, CA
    I have about forty birds,most of them hatched this spring and have had the pox go through most of the birds pretty quickly. Most of them had the dry pox. About ten percent got the wet sounding breathing in their throats and were more subdued looking for a few days. I did nothing at all. I wanted to see if my birds had adequate immune systems or not. Broodies keep on brooding and the chicks hatched normally. I pulled them as soon as I could after they hatched and they seem to be remaining healthy even two weeks later.
    I changed their water more often so that they would always have fresh cool water to drink, but other than that, no interference, period. They mostly get over it in a week or so. If you pick the scabs, it makes a hole three times as big that takes a lot longer to heal. That's about all I know about the pox.
  3. GopherBoyFarms

    GopherBoyFarms Songster

    Mar 18, 2008
    Vancouver WA
    I know nothing about it but want to keep a hand on this thread....hope to learn more ...just in case.

    And they are caused by mosquitos?
  4. Have been reading more....

    They can pick up the virus on dust, dirt, each other's scabs, or by rubbing up against the side anything, like a feeder or waterer. They are vectored by mosquitoes and mites. The virus can remain viable for up to a month in a mosquito, and as long on dust particles!!!

    I am also hoping that the natural immunity of my birds will prevail; that's why I haven't separated them or done anything other than the one euthanasia. That wet form (the diptheric form) is an ugly, ugly thing.

    My girls have fresh water daily, and they also have a high-powered fan in their chunnel, which really does help keep the skeeters off of them at night, on the roost. However, there are evenings when, if I don't wear a repellant, I have about 1 skeeter bite per 4 square inches of skin.

    I am, really concerned about it being passed to the cardinals, mockingbirds, and raptors who live in and around my acre.

    Other reading I have done gives conflicting answers as to whether birds remain carriers after the infection subsides. This virus is related to human smallpox, though, so it would make sense that a bird who has had the disease and is now immune to it could still be a carrier (the way the early explorers wiped out the Native Americans with small pox, when they weren't having active outbreaks).
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2008
  5. MandyH

    MandyH You'll shoot your eye out!

    I don't know about the pox spreading to the wild birds or not, but my flock had it BAD last summer. I did nothing but check on them regularly until the scabs started forming. Once they have the pox, they won't get them again though. Kinda like chicken pox in people. Just watch for the wet pox to form in the throat, that can cause asphyxiation if the throat gets occluded. Other than that, let it ride out it's course and you should be fine. Pyrethrins are derived from chrysanthimums and is organic as long as nothing else is added to it.
  6. From what I've read, it seems to affect wild birds worse. It seems to kill raptors and insect-eating birds, because if it affects one eye, they can't see well enough to hunt, and they starve to death.

    It is easily spread at backyard feeders for wild birds, so I won't be having any of THOSE out this year.

    See these articles about the effect on wild birds. Warning: some have hideous pictures:

    Wild Turkeys


    Bald Eagles

    Quail (apparently, fowl pox is really decimating some quail populations)
  7. onthespot

    onthespot Deluxe Dozens

    Mar 29, 2008
    Riverside/Norco, CA
    any info on finches? I was thinking of moving my finch flight closer to the chickens, but not if they are going to catch it and die. They eat finch mix and boiled eggs and greens I buy for them from the store, but they still could get it from mosquitoes if they were near them... ya think?
  8. there is a different affliction called "canary pox", and I think the experts have pretty much decided that turkey pox is just a different strain of fowl pox.

    In my search, I did see photos of house finches (aka strawberry finches) with fowl pox.

    Before all this pox problem, I actually turned down a dove-cote because I was afraid I was getting too many birds in small acre, and I was afraid I would be increasing my chances of one of the flocks coming down with something and spreading it to the other flock. Guess I brought that on myself, huh?
  9. sweetshoplady

    sweetshoplady Songster

    Feb 4, 2008
    Venice, Florida
    I just got a mosquito magnet and it is catching mosquitos. Only had it for a couple days.

    I think my flock particularly my little wee chicks have this pox. The 2 little cockerels seem to have the wet pox and its in their eyes. The little wee hen is really having trouble breathing. I don't know. She seems to be gasping for breath, like she's asthmatic.

    The cockerels are possibly destined for the table, are they safe to eat once this passes?

    Does the little wee hen have it worse because its internal? Gads, So very sad. I hate to see her like this. I I do have them separated. I do have horrible mosquitoes (why I got the CO2 thing, so far so good on that).
  10. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon

    Jan 27, 2007
    Sorry you've been hit! Thanks so much for providing so detailed an account and excellent links. Another member in your state posted up a photo today of what appeared suspiciously like dry pox. I would wonder if your birds, in the early stages, exhibited similar lesions? https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=101357

    thank you, and best of luck!

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