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Avian Pox

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Avian Pox

Post by Curracag Admin » 23 Jan 2013, 00:03

Originally Posted 22 Jan 2013, 23:56 by YvonneB in Sightings

There has been a report from Grimsay of a few dead and dying Sparrows which, from the description - "crusty growths around the face" sounds like it could be Avian Pox. I'm unsure of whether there has ever been an outbreak here in the islands.

This information is from the BTO website (

Avian pox is caused by avian pox virus. Affected birds develop warty or tumour-like growths, on the head (particularly next to the eye or beak), legs, wings, or other body parts. The growths are usually grey, pinkish, red or yellow in colour.

Whilst a range of species are known to be susceptible to avian pox infection (e.g. house sparrow, wood pigeon, dunnock, starling). In most cases lesions are distributed on the head around the eyes and beak. The extent to which different bird species are susceptible to different avian pox virus strains is unknown.

The virus is spread between birds by biting insects that carry the virus, direct contact with other birds and indirect contact, possibly through contaminated bird feeders. Avian poxvirus is not known to be infectious to humans or other mammals.

Maintaining optimal hygiene at feeding stations can help to prevent outbreaks of disease. Where disease outbreaks occur, temporary removal of supplementary food may be appropriate to reduce close congregation of birds and reduced the risk of further disease transmission.

There is a lot of information, including a reporting form for sightings of birds affected by Avian Pox on the RSPB website at: ... anpox.aspx

Here is a leaflet that you can download which gives a lot of information about Avian Pox, including measures that you can take if the birds in your area are affected. (Be warned, some of the photos are not very pleasant!):-
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also of interest: Outer Hebrides Biological Recording Project

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