Ask The Vet: theme questions (pigeon herpes virus)

Occasionally, we will select some very interesting questions and answers concerning a certain topic (disease, medicin, etc.) and publish them on our homepage. Today's topic is pigeon herpes virus.

My pigeons are eating well but find it difficult to swollow. I gave 5 days for kanker but still no improvement. After my vet gave me another 5 days for catarth, still the same, again at the vet he insisted about catarth. Tricho 40, chlortetracycline and aviosan were used. Do u think of something else before i give my birds another course? Birds look not bad but in hands i feel them a bit deep and red throats.

The symptoms of catarrh you are describing could indicate an infection with trichomoniasis, candidiasis and/or herpes virus. Since you have already treated for canker, you and your vet should probably take these two other possibilities into account. Herpes is very common but is a virus so it is hard to treat. You could consider an L-lysine treatment and vaccination if possible.
(Ruben Lanckriet)

My pigeons were diagnosed with herpes virus about 2 months ago and also were vomitting just over a week ago. I have now treated them with nifouromycin for 8 days and the pigeons seem in excellent condition. I live in Malta and the racing season is from November until May. Do you think that it is now safe to race my pigeons and should I have any particular worries over them recovering from the herpes virus?

Herpes is very common in pigeons and a lot of pigeons stay carrier of the virus. This doesn't at all have to mean that bird will not perform well, but in cases of immunity weakening this virus can cause some temporary respiratory and/or throat problems. This can happen because of the races, the stress in the baskets, etc... Then it can help to administer L-lysine on the food for one week f.e. This has a blocking effect on the multiplication of the virus and does help clinically, but it is no medication so it can come back when the birds still have a weak immunity or other diseases. Vaccinations can be of help to prevent the disease from breaking through.
(Ruben Lanckriet)

What causes one of the eyes of a pigeon to get slightly paler ? The pigeon looks in very good health and does not sit in a draught area. Your help is greatly apreciated and I look forward to your professional advice.

Most of the time it is a multi factorial problem. It is not 100 % clear what is the cause of this problem, but in most of the acute cases we could isolate Herpes virus, that probably will be the cause or one of the possible causes. Sometimes we can also detect some Chlamydia. I had already some good results using acyclovir drops, sometimes it is better an antibiotic ointment. In some cases it doesn't improve, but the pigeon looks completely healthy, the eye is just a bit pale. Apparently the pigeon has no problems with the sight. Is it only the eye that is pale or is it watery and swollen also? Do you see other symptoms?
(Pascal Lanneau)

Would like to know what cause herpus virus and how do the birds get infected with this. I rather want to get to the root of this and start treatment from there.

Herpes virus is mostly tranferred by air and drinking water. You cannot completely get rid of it because a lot of birds are carrier of this virus. It is also not really treatable as there are no effective medications for viruses, but you can try to get the immunity of the birds up f.e. by vaccination.
(Ruben Lanckriet)

I will appreciate if you can help me in identifying a symptom in my pigeons. When I open the beak of a bird, a silverish/white stain is present on the roof of the birds palate. This rash like stain is on both sides of the opening in palate, and is situated towards the upper back of the throat. I hope my description of this symptom is sufficient enough so that you can help me. The birds also tend to scratch in the area between their ears and upper throat. Thank you very much in advance.

This symptom indicates strongly for a pigeon herpes virus infection. You should also consider candida, trichomiasis and/or bacterial overgrowth. The scratching is an indication for upper respiratory problem but this could also be related with the herpes virus.
(Ruben Lanckriet)

I wonder if you could advise me please, I believe my pigeons may have pigeon herpesvirus (phv), at the moment I am treating them with baytril is this advisable? Symptoms - watery droppings, sometimes mushy olive green, Thirst, weight loss, signs of canker in the mouth also ornithosis type symptoms i.e. one eyed cold.

If you have really problems with herpes-viral infection , I think then you would see the following symptoms yellow spots in the upper respiratory tracts and in the throat. Also as you said f.e. one-eye-cold. In such a cases of infections we give them a treatment with a combination of Doxycycline ( f.e. Soludox or Ornicure ) + Spiramycine (Suanovil ) + Tylosine ( Tylan ) together in the drinking water for 8 or 10 days. Also at the same time treat them with ronidazole tabltes for tricho. Of course you have to be sure that this is a correct diagnose. If you have the possiblitiy to let your pigeons examinate, od not hesitate. The green dropping and watery dropping could be from some other infections.
(Wim Boddaert)


If you have any other questions on this topic, please check the answers to the previously asked questions. Note that these answers should never replace a consultation. A diagnosis is impossible without a medical examination by a veterinarian. The answers serve merely as general medical information.