Way of infection

Dear pigeon fancier,

The racing pigeon sport has changed much the last few years.

“Flights are no longer as 10 years ago” is something you hear very much.

The accelerations of the birds and also from the races are much higher than a decade ago.

More exchange of the “better” pigeon, good balanced feeding, supplements, vitamins and minerals are important, but also the medical support of your race team (and breeders!!) is very important!!!

I would like to inform you by mean of this “duivengazetse” a bit more about the latest news, the different problems in the pigeon medicines and so..

This “gazetse” (paper) is in the first place to inform you!!! I would be pleased to hear all reactions about this. Suggestions, remarks, questions,…are more than welcome.

Do you find this mean of information interesting and do you like it to receive it in the future, by e-mail, fax, … just give me a sign. Do you know a colleague pigeon fancier who is also interested, please don't hesitate to mail me his (her) information (e-mail adress,…)

In this first edition, I want to talk a bit about a problem that is a very hot item in this period:


Screen your lofts on Paratyphus!!
Paratyphus is caused by a bacteria called Salmonella Typhimurium var. Copenhaeghen.

Paratyphus is a very difficult disease because in most of the times it is a subclinical disease, this means that you don't see anything at a pigeon, that can be infected with the bacteria!! The bacteria can be present for a long time, before you ever saw any problem.

Most of the time the pigeons will be infected orally, the bacteria goes into the intestines and further on it will go via blood and lymph into the different organs, which can lead to abscesses over there.

The origin of infection is most of the time feed or water that is dirty and infected with Salmonella, the baskets, feral pigeons, but also pigeons you just bought can be a source of infection.

It is also possible that the embryos already are infected during the fertilization or afterwards when the bacteria goes into the shell of the egg.

Be aware if a pigeon (breeder) suddenly starts to loose weight, a bit diarrhea, and (in most cases) dies very fast. In that case you always have to think on paratyphus that can be the cause. Especially during moult  and the breeding  period, the pigeons are a bit stressed, and have not so much resistance against all diseases. When Salmonella is slumbering in your loft, it can suddenly explode. Than you can see pigeons with a wing node, they can't fly into their nests, they are crippled… Now and then you can see that they turn with their head and that there are different little abscesses especially on the head.

During breeding season, the lay can be delayed, plenty of clear or black eggs can be seen. Also youngsters from 5-10 days old can die in the nest, or they don't grow up like they should do, have some diarrhea, are paralised or the feathers are not developed like it should be.

The greatest problem with Salmonella is that there are plenty of subclinical carriers. The pigeons don't look ill, but they can secrete the bacteria and infect the other pigeons without you ever saw something.

Be careful with pigeons you just bought, put them in quarantine, and screen them if you are not sure about the absence of salmonellosis!!

To be sure you have or (even better) don't have paratyphus in your lofts, there are two possibilities.

Bloodsamples are good to detect the presence of the bacteria when the test is positive, when the test is negative, you can't be sure your pigeons don't have the bacteria. You can also determine the level of a specific blood parameter, that can give us an indication of the presence of an infection with paratyphus earlier.

A more suitable way of diagnosis is the bacteriological culture on samples of the droppings you gathered for 5 days . Why 5 days? If you only take the droppings of one day it can be possible that the level of the bacteria at that specific moment was very low, so the result is for that moment negative. If you take droppings from 5 days the reliability of the test will be much higher!!

Of course, if the number of pigeons is very high in one loft, it would be better to divide the loft into different samples, so the presence of the bacteria will not be much diluted, and the reliability of the test is in that way also high!! You can compare that with a loft of 100 pigeons with one white-flight in. It is much more difficult to recognize the white –flight in 100 pigeons than when he is in a loft with only 20 pigeons.

You can take some samples of the different lofts, or also from specific pigeons that you just bought or that don't do the thing you expected from.

Fighting against paratyphus is not an easy job, don't underestimate it!!!

Two important things you have to remember:

Sanitation of the lofts and Medical part.

Sanitation of the loft is very important, and means that you have to kill all the pigeons that are infected with the bacteria After this you have to clean the loft and disinfect it (for example with javel or CID)

Pigeons that are of great value, you can put in quarantine, treat them and only let them in the flock when you are sure they are negative for paratyphus, this means, only when the culture of the droppings is negative.

Stop the breeding immediately, because the youngsters will almost always be right away infected.

Racing and overcrowding is of no good!!

Medical part exists out of two parts.
Antibiotics, such as Baytril®, is one of the most effective drugs against paratyphus for the moment.

Many people ask if it is right to treat their lofts against paratyphus, before the breeding or racing period, and also, with which medication?

It is difficult to give here a very quick answer, because there are many factors to keep in mind.

First off all, if it is not necessary to treat, don't treat.

But it is very difficult to know when it is necessary or not. To know if you have paratyphus in your loft, you can do a bacteriologic culture of the droppings, if this is negative it is better to treat the pigeons, if you want to treat them preventive against paratyphus, with trimethoprim-sulfonamides (f.e. Cosumix®).

Vaccination against paratyphus is also very good curative.

The death vaccines are a very good help curative, after you treated the pigeons for minimum 10 days with an antibiotic, then you vaccinate them. In that way they become stronger and will be able to shedder the bacteria less.

Preventive it is not so good, it will be able to diminish the death caused by paratyphus but they can still become ill.

Living, weakened vaccines should give a better immunity preventive.

If you vaccinate, do this always after a treatment, if you don't do this, it can be possible that the pigeons are already infected before the vaccination and that they become ill due to the vaccination. Vaccination is the same as giving the pigeons the disease, but weakened, so they can make a resistance, and will not be ill!!

Vaccinate always as prescribed!!

After all this, it is of the greatest importance to screen your lofts very frequently. After you had some troubles, you have to let make a culture of the droppings after 2 months, when this is negative, then you have to do this every 6 months.

Even if you don't see any problem, it is very important to know if your loft is infected –even subclinical- with paratyphus. A screening before breeding and a screening before racing is recommended!!

It is of a very high importance how you take the different samples!!.

Like I said earlier, the bacteria is secreted not continuously. This makes that there are some important things to remember when you take samples of the droppings to let them analyze for Salmonellosis.

Lofts: When you want to screen your lofts, without having or seeing specific problems, you have to take samples from every pigeon in that loft, during 5 days. If you, however, have lofts with high quantities of pigeons (more than 20), it would be better to divide that in to different  virtual sections. In that way, you are more sure that you will have the best accuracy off your test.

Individual pigeons: When you have a pigeon that is not looking very healthy, or a pigeon you bought and you are afraid that it could be infected with paratyphus, don't hesitate to screen them. You can do that by taking some samples of blood, but, for the moment more reliable, is the culture of droppings. Take 5 days the droppings of that specific pigeon and take it to your vet to have a culture on it.

Make sure your samples don't become to dry, put them in a little plastic bag or a little box  you can close.