September 2017

By Dr Rob Conradie

1004 pigeons were tested at the various venues across Gauteng.  We found the following:

Canker            26%  incidence.  Many resistant strains have been found.  Where possible, have the birds tested to ensure the treatment has worked.  Metronidazole preparations given once-off early in the week proved to be the most effective of all the preparations available.  Most fanciers have needed to treat for Canker every two weeks.

Candida         21% incidence.  A new trend that we are finding is that it is often encountered after Canker treatment. Medistatin can be used for 1-2 days weekly if necessary especially when antibiotics and canker medications are used on a regular basis.

Coccidiosis    14% incidence.   The oocyst/egg counts tend to increase as the season progresses. Be aware of this.  Remember too that even low parasite levels cause damage to the intestinal lining allowing bacteria to enter the blood stream.

Heamoproteus/Malaria  13% incidence. 
Many fanciers are giving the 10day treatment of Primaquin before the start of the season but are neglecting the fact that Primaquin must be given for 1-2 days a week throughout the season. The Malaria parasite needs to be suppressed all the time because of the length of the life cycle and the potential of new infections being picked up all the time.

Roundworm    4% incidence.  When found, it can be difficult to get rid of because of the problem of reinfection from the environment in the area around the loft.

Salmonella    45% incidence in the lofts tested. Medpet’ s newly introduced test kit has enabled the fancier to diagnose Salmonella while still in the early stages. Results are available within 10 minutes. The test has proved to be 95 – 100% accurate. A Mediprim /Medicox mixture has proved to be a very effective treatment and can be used in the racing season. Improved race results are often seen within one week.

Ornithosis    17% incidence in the lofts tested. With Medpet’s new test kit results are available in 10 mins. This test has proved to be very useful in giving us a rapid diagnosis.
While treating Ornithosis ensure that 375mg to 500mgs Doxycycline per litre drinking water are being given. Dosage levels below this would be ineffective.  Doxybiotic Plus or Tylodox will be the products of choice.

Laboratory tests especially when throat and/or liver swabs have been taken have revealed interesting results:

Bacteria found in the 30 lofts tested (this test is not done commonly because of the expense involved) were :-

Gallibacterium anatis        20% of swabs taken revealed this bacterium.  Sensitivity tests showed that 90% of isolates were sensitive to Amoxycillin (Avivet), 30% to Doxycycline (Doxybiotic, Tylodox), 30% to Mediprim/Medicox, 20% to Tylosin (Tylodox).

Pelistega europaes        20% The incidence of this is increasing rapidly especially over the latter part of this year.  100% of isolates were sensitive to Amoxycillin (Avivet), 30% to Doxycycline.
This bacterium was first found in racing pigeons in Germany. It is one of the many causes of pigeons showing one eyed colds, rubbing their eyes against their wing buts and scratching at their noses. Many fanciers are experiencing this problem.

Staphylococcus pseudointermedius  16%     Another bacterium well known as a cause of respiratory infections in pigeons.
Frustratingly, no antibiotic was effective in more than 50% of cases. In cases like these if the first antibiotic does not work the second and third need to be tried.

Streptococcus gallolyticus   10%   Muscle and wing disease.
Amoxycillin (Avivet) was the medication of choice in all cases. Amoxycillin must be given at a dose rate of 2000mg per litre drinking water. Many amoxicillin products are not given at the correct dose.

In the laboratory where we performed post mortems and microscopic tests the most common findings were:
1. liver damage as a result of food toxins
2. kidney damage as a result of past and present cases of Paramyxo and
3. Circo virus.

Viruses showing the highest incidence:

A. Paramyxo
In the off season we found many cases of Paramyxo with many fanciers losing more than half of their birds. Many of the birds that do recover are left with varying degrees of kidney and brain damage. Many of these birds did not perform in the race season.
While investigating these cases one or more of the following trends came to our notice:-

1.  Using unregistered poor quality vaccines or vaccines that have not been handled properly resulting in a break in the cold chain. Many of these vaccines have been ineffective or only given protection for a short period of time. We found many cases of subclinical Paramyxo during the season. Give boosters half way through the season to prevent this from happening.

2.  Vaccinating young birds too late. Vaccinate at 3 weeks of age and again 4 weeks later.

3.  Using eye drop vaccines which give a poor immunity especially in the face of a massive virus challenge.

Use registered Paramyxo vaccines. Is it worth losing good pigeons and having a poor season because you used cheap substandard vaccines?

B. Young bird disease
Many fanciers experienced this in the off season. Most birds recover but, as described in Colin Walker’s excellent book we get a second wave of a milder form of the disease when the bids are placed under stress of training and racing.
Many fanciers have experienced this phenomenon this year.

This second wave of YBD and the after effects of Paramyxo have been two of the many factors that have possibly played a role in the tremendous losses of young birds that we have experienced this year. 


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