thanks to Dr Rob Conradie for permitting us to post his recent
independent article on "Eye problems we are having in pigeons in SA",
Over the last few years most of us have seen eye problems in our
birds. In most cases this has shown as a swelling of the eye,
usually only one eye and in most cases the lower eyelid seems to be
The pattern seen seems to vary from loft to loft.
In some lofts, each bird is affected only for 2-3 days and in other
lofts it appears as a smouldering infection in each bird that lasts for
In some lofts the fancier appears to continue racing well, while in others the results are poor.
Obviously no bird with an existing eye condition is sent to a race but some can return with the problem.
When diagnostic tests have been done here and in many other countries, we have found:
Mycoplasma. Colin Walker from Australia has identified this as one of the causes.
Ornithosis. This has been confirmed in some cases,
not necessarily as an active infection but tests have shown that the
bird had Ornithosis recently. These have also been Colin Walkers
Bacteria. In SA we have found some cases of Pelistega associated with this condition.
Having said all this we feel that a virus, probably Herpes, is playing
a role. The condition appears to be behaving like a virus. Virus
isolation to confirm this is expensive and time consuming. Looking for
the virus is sometimes like looking for a needle in a haystack
It appears to be a multifactorial problem. There is not always a
specific pattern and causes identified seem to vary a little from loft
to loft. This would explain variations of progression of the disease
through the loft and response to treatment.
As regards treatment, there does not appear to be a treatment that is 100% effective.
Broad spectrum antibiotics. For Pelistega
Avivet gives the best results. Not necessarily for the eye problem in
all cases but for the Pelistega infection.
Antibiotic eye ointments. These only relieve
the irritation in the eye and possibly help with the infection to a
certain extent. These are only available on prescription.
Ointments containing Chloramphenicol, Oxytetracyclines etc. are worth
trying. Do not use any containing cortisone. They are
Supportive treatment with immune boosters:
o Probiotics ( Entero-Plus; Intestum)
o Specific immune boosters (Medimune)