Pigeon sales, racing, shows banned
PIGEON sales, racing and shows have been banned in the state after paramyxovirus was detected in birds that participated in a race from Mudgee to Sydney early last month.
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) says it’s the second confirmed case of pigeon paramyxovirus in Sydney since May.
“The case was reported by the owner of a pigeon loft and confirmed by a virologist at DPI’s Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute on June 27,” says DPI Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, Sally Spence.
“The affected loft contains around 60 birds – six of these have died and a further six are showing signs of the virus, which include increased thirst, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and reluctance to move and fly,” Dr Spence says in a statement.
“The infected birds participated in a race on June 16 and 17, from Mudgee to Sydney, and there is a high possibility that other birds in the race have been infected or exposed to infection.
“Our aim is to prevent inadvertent infection by apparently healthy birds carrying the virus at places where pigeons might aggregate.
“Following consultation with industry groups, the decision has been made to ban all pigeon sales, shows and racing until owners have had a chance to vaccinate their birds.”
Dr Spence says that although the disease is serious for pigeons, it appears to be less damaging in the affected loft compared to the first Victorian outbreak.
“There are no obvious connections to Victoria, where the disease was first identified in August 2011, and clinical signs appear to be milder and cause lower mortality than we have seen before,” says Dr Spence.
“The bio-security controls we are putting in place are the same as those employed by Victorian authorities and should contain the disease until people can protect their pigeons: it’s a minor short-term inconvenience for a major long-term gain.
“I urge all pigeon owners to consult their private veterinarian on using poultry vaccine to minimise the risk of infection.
“Restrictions will remain in place for at least six to eight weeks, until vaccinations have had a chance to take effect and DPI and industry leaders are satisfied that people have had an opportunity to protect their pigeons.
“Following this period, depending on take-up of vaccinations and pending any further cases, the controls will be reviewed with a view to easing or lifting restrictions altogether.
“If pigeons show any signs of the virus, owners should seek advice from their private veterinarian immediately.
“In cases where the virus is identified, the infected loft or property is quarantined and DPI will help owners to manage the health of their pigeons,” Dr Spence says.
As wild pigeons have occasionally been infected in Victoria, if people see wild pigeons that have died they can report them to Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.
More information on the pigeon paramyxovirus at http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity.