Ask The Vet: theme questions (adenovirus type I or young bird sickness)

Every four weeks on a Saturday, we will select some very interesting questions and answers concerning a certain topic (disease, medicines, etc.) and publish them on our homepage. Today's topic is adenovirus type I or young bird sickness.

My young birds have come down with a serious case of young bird sickness, ie they have crop retention and they're also vomiting with very watery and slimey droppings. What would your words of wisdom be? And how would you treat this?

Young bird sickness is caused by an adenovirus typical for pigeons (type I). This primary virus causes damage to the liver and the intestines. The liver and intestinal inflammation causes diarrhoea. The hepatitis also causes vomiting and the lack of digestion of food. In a lot of cases other agents such as Escherichia coli (a bacteria) or hexamita (protozoön) take advantage of the situation and result in more intestinal inflammation and diarrhoea. E. coli is normally present in the intestines of ALL pigeons. There is no such thing as a cure for E. coli. This is the same for other bacteria like staphylococs, streptococs, etc... There is no treatment against the adenovirus although I have seen that pigeons vaccinated for paratyphus are less susceptible for the disease (and all kinds of diseases). Off course you can treat for the secondary infections (treatment for E. coli and hexamita) after clinical examination of the birds and exclusion of other possible infections. If the antibiotics do not help, it could be wise to do an antibiogram of the E. coli as there is a tremendous antibiotic resistance rate in E. coli. At the same time it is wise to give light easily digestible food and perhaps also a liver protection like sedochol, biochol or...
(Ruben Lanckriet)

My young pigeons have jelly droppings and still have food in their crops in the morning and they look terrible. Can you help me please?

This is probably an indication of an adenovirus infection or young bird sickness. Other possibilities could be trichomoniasis, candidiasis or herpes. Adenovirus attacks the liver and so can be the cause of bad droppings, vomiting and nausea. Usually E. coli or hexamita takes advantage of the situation and causes enteritis. That's why the treatment is mostly directed to these secondary infections. I also always give a liver protection like f.e. sedochol with the treatment.
(Ruben Lanckriet)

I have noticed early in the morning when it is still dark and i switch the lights on in the loft i find that some of the young birds have been vomiting during the night (i think it is the young birds) what can be causing this ?

This is probably caused by adenovirus type I. The vomiting occurs because of the virus effecting the liver.
(Ruben Lanckriet)

Do you believe that we in Malta have been losing pigeons in great numbers due to Adenovirus or as I believe due to some other disease like for example Paratyphoid ?

Naturally you can lose pigeons when they have a paratyphoid or adenovirus. But I think the biggest cause is respiratory problems. When the pigeons have ornithosis they also have problems orienting correctly.
(Dr. Vincent Schroeder)

The birds drink water and the water stays in the crop. The birds crop swells and the bird will die. Often if you try to squeeze or drain the crop the bird will die. There is no food just water. Could you advise?

This could be adenovirus, canker and/or a yeast infection. Best advice is to check the birds for these parasites and do an appropriate treatment. The adeno-coli syndrome can be treated with antibiotics, sedochol, electrolytes or light digestable food. Canker with nitro-imidazoles and yeast infections with amphotericin B or nystatine (depending on the kind of fungus).
(Ruben Lanckriet)

My pigeons have young bird disease. What is the best natural treatment for this disease ?

As natural treatment you should certainly give liver protection - f.e. sedochol, biochol, or... - . As a natural antibiotic you could give garlic and/or a herbal tea.
(Ruben Lanckriet)


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