(Article by Dr Rob Conradie)
Young Bird Disease is still found commonly. Every loft in SA has probably experienced this at some stage.
Caused by one or more of the following viruses ... (for this reason it is now called a syndrome) :
• Adeno virus. Used to be the most common.Main symptoms shown are
vomiting and Diarrhoea.Vomiting occurs at night generally.Visit the
loft before sunrise.Discard any vomited food.If you visit too late the
vomited food would have been eaten by some of the birds giving the
impression that there is no vomiting but birds eating vomited food are
more likely to become infected by the virus.
• Circo virus. Seems to be the most common form found at present.Birds show vague symptoms that can vary tremendously.
• Paramyxo.This virus plays a bigger role in young bird disease than
what we have experienced in the past.The typical symptoms of either
head twisting or watery droppings are not always seen. As with Circo
virus the symptoms can vary tremendously.Do not underestimate the role
that this virus may be playing.
• Herpes virus.Main symptoms seen here are white/yellow/grey deposits in the mouth.Can easily be confused with Canker.
It is incredible how some lofts, for instance, will show more Adeno and
other lofts more Circo virus or Paramyxo or a combination of two or
• REST. Continue light training when the birds show an inclination to
want to train around the loft. Never train a bird that has food in the
crop in the morning. This is a sign that all is not well.
(If we continue to play sport while we have flu our recovery period will be prolonged.)
• Vaccinate against Paramyxo. This must be done regardless of whether it has been done earlier or not.
Use a dead injectable vaccine that has been registered and handled
properly. The vaccine must not have been allowed to get warm at any
If your birds have already been vaccinated and are showing symptoms
that look like Paramyxo, vaccinate again using a different vaccine.
There may be a problem with the vaccine.
The most effective vaccination program for young birds is to give the
first vaccination at 3 weeks followed by a booster 4 weeks later.
• There is no cure for the virus but antibiotics can be beneficial in
the treatment of secondary bacterial infections. Avivet and Mediprim
are examples of two that would be effective against secondary
• Other secondary problems would be Canker, treated with many of the
products available and Candida treated with Nystatin (Medistatin).
• Immune boosters in the form of probiotics and more specifically with products like Medimune.
• Vitamins. Many products are available.
• Many other remedies are used. Examples are Cinnamon, Hydrogen peroxide, Virkon, Jik, garlic etc.
You will hear of many other variations of treatment. When analyzed the basics will be found to be the same.
If ten people with flu visit ten different doctors they will be given
ten different scripts. Their ten friends would give them their ten
different opinions as well but the basics will be the same.
Many fanciers experience problems with YBD in the off season. Beware of
what is called the second wave of the problem that occurs when the
birds are subjected to the stress of the first part of the season. This
stage of the season is the time of the year when fanciers are likely to
experience either the first or second wave of the disease. This could
be one of the many reasons why we experience heavy young bird losses
early in the season.
For more information on Young Bird Disease and othe ailments experienced by pigeons, see our article on Common Avian Diseases.