Who has experience with a fowl pox outbreak?


10 Years
Jul 24, 2009
SE Louisiana
My 12 beautiful mutt chickens are going through a nasty case of fowl pox.
It makes me really sad because I hatched these chicks 4 months ago, and have babied them. I know the pox is spread by mosquitoes. I have been reading about betadine and yogurt, etc. So far my case appears to be dry pox, and we are probably into it about two weeks. The pox are looking really nasty right now - black and crusty.

I have owned many chickens for a period of 9 years prior to this, and I don't ever remember them having this. At that time I lived only 8 miles from where I do now, but I am closer to water here (hence, mosquitoes) than I was there.

My question is, who has gone through this, and how long did it take to run its course? Are the chickens left with scarred areas from the lesions? Will the chickens grow and lay properly after they heal? At what point can I safely rehome my extra roos?
PM Threehorses. (The link will take you to a PM page for her.) She had a wealth of information when my birds developed it.

As far as how long it takes to run its course, the data I have read says it takes about four weeks. I wouldn't rehome anybody until they are done having the lesions.

We just had Fowl Pox in our flock. In fact we still have one chicken that got it pretty bad on her eyelids so she is penned up.
It lasted about a month and went through the whole flock but they are pretty much getting back to normal. I moved to this part of Texas about 3 years ago and had never seen anything like this before but with the info here we got through it ok.
Except for the one girl that still is infected everyone else seemed to sail right through it.Combs and wattles are clean and bright red . They didn't get it anywhere else.
I went through this a couple of months ago. About 30 chickens, and most of them had it. I did not have any wet pox, fortunately. I posted here and threehorses responded. Here is the nitty gritty of it.

Mostly, the disease is self limiting, will just run its course and go away. I have read that they are immune after this. We shall see, next year, I guess. Have not seen a recurrence this year, and mosquito season is not over yet, here.

The only problem with dry pox is that sometimes they can get secondary infections, especially if they have lots of lesions, and/or lesions near the eyes. Most of mine just had black spots on combs and wattles. I did have one hen who had a bunch of them around her eyes, and she started swelling and looking infected on her head. The others started pecking and attacking her. I tried to stop this cycle, isolated her for a while, but it did not go well. We were processing extra roos at the time so I resolved the problem by processing her as well, since I could not turn her loose in the flock without her being attacked.

For the rest, I put some Betadine on the comb/wattle lesions, and Neosporin on the lesions near the eyes, as Neosporin is not irritating to their eyes. I only did it it once, probably two weeks into the outbreak. The others did fine, and no one else developed a secondary infection. At around 4 weeks, all of a sudden, all the lesions were gone.

The lesions do shed the virus, which others can get from this, but so many already had it that I didn't do any isolating.

Of course I can't claim that treating them with the Neosporin and Betadine really helped prevent further secondary infections. Fowl pox is a virus, there is no treatment, so you are only dealing with secondary infection. I did what threehorses suggested, and it worked out. She said she had seen just a few cases of really bad secondary infections that started with fowl pox, similar to what happened with my one hen.
Hi there.

Yes, I've seen a few cases of secondary bacterial infection that really were horrible. Usually they seem to be more associated with eye/mouth lesions. Birds with lesions near the mouth are reluctant to eat, and of course birds with lesions around the eyes have problems with the swelling, with itching, etc.

So it's best to dot all lesions with iodine once, then monitor them. If you see some looking more problematic than others and they're not on the eyes/mouth, dot with iodine daily. Near the eye, use neosporin daily. Near the mouth, use listerine the first time (only on a q-tip so they don't swallow it, just swab) and then neosporin after.

Basically however this is a viral disease so your best bet is to boost immunity and keep the birds comfortable. That means a good broad spectrum vitamin, or my preference is polyvisol because of the vitamin A in it (good for mucous membrane health, good E for anti-inflammatory action) fed via mouth of in the food, not water where it easily degrades.

Make sure they're all eating. Look for any lethargic birds. Note that birds may also be largely asymptomatic and still have pox.

I find my cases usually are non-problematic. However, it was worse this year and absolutely horrible for my turkeys. I usually don't vaccinate (despite a yearly case of pox for the last 10-12 years) but will be doing so to new birds/babies next year just to avoid having to look at it.

The wet cases (diphtheria) will have usually no outward symptoms, but lethargy and cheesy exudate on the roof of the mouth - so if you see lethargic birds, always check inside their mouths.

At the end of four weeks or so, the lesions will loosen slightly around the edges, perhaps look only slightly lighter. Then mine usually drop off dramatically over the course of one day. The virus is spread both via insect vector (biting insects, usually the mosquito) and also by the scab which remains infective for a very long time. So if you have the option, after all birds are done (and thus immune from then on) discard your bedding. I don't, but I usually have very light issues.

I hope this helps!
Thank you for all of the replies. I do have two pullets who are each getting very red around one eye. I think I will go out a put some antibiotic ointment on them right now.

I also have six 3-week old EE's, which I hatched. They are far separated from the larger chickens, and I always tend to them first. I am thinking of vaccinating them. They show no signs of illness at this point.

My real concern, which I am just beginning to become aware of, is the fact that we have two pet cockatiels in our home. I am now getting very paranoid of being near them. Can't they catch this, too? One is our beloved family member, and I am giving the other one to some friends when they move at the end of this month. I am just making sure that I do not take care of them right now. My husband and daughters can do all of that. Thankfully my daughters usually take care of the cockatiels anyway - so I've had very little if any direct contact with them since the virus arrived. This is only spread by direct contact, right? Not through the air?

Thanks again for any more answers.
()relics :

is the fowl pox that affects turkeys the same strain that affect chickens/other birds?

I believe it's the same strain, yes - you'd have to check first if you're planning to vaccinate. But it effects my chickens and turkeys at exactly the same time. It's Avian Pox that effects them both - don't know if there's a small difference in the actual strain. But I believe there is none.

Incidentally, when my turkeys got it, they got it horribly because they simply have way more unfeathered face area.​
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I had one that got a lesion exactly on his upper eyelid but it never infected nor effected his eye at all. But I watched it extremely carefully!

Here's an article on the vaccination process:

An important quote from that article: "There are two different Pox vaccines one is used on birds from one day old up to about 5 weeks of age and the other is an Older bird Pox vaccine and is used on birds from 8 weeks of age and up. Vaccine names and the age timing will vary by manufacturer but if you vaccinate birds with a young bird vaccine you must follow up later with the older bird vaccine in order to get long term immunity. Failure to do so will make your birds vulnerable to a Pox outbreak should the right conditions exist. The cost of the Pox vaccine is $ 6.00 per 1000 dose bottle ."

It is possible that caged birds can get the same pox. However, remember - it's spread by biting insects (mites, mosquitoes) and scabs. If you use usual hygiene procedures, you won't give it to them.

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