Fowl pox is a disease of the poultry including chickens, pigeons, turkeys and other birds. Signs of the disease are not visible for the first 5 weeks, after which lesions start forming on wattles, ears and combs. The disease may occur at any time and it affects birds of all ages. Mortality rate is less in the cutaneous form but high if there is involvement of the respiratory tract.
Causative agent: Virus, the pox virus.
General signs and symptoms
Symptoms are those manifestations that can not be seen with eyes. Chickens with fowl pox will often exhibit a drop in egg production, loss of appetite or weight, lesions inside the mouth and throats. These symptoms may thrive in the flock for about 3-5 weeks before signs are clearly seen on wattles, ears and combs.
The disease is characterised by cutaneous lesions on the featherless parts of the birds’ skin or the diphtheritic lesions that are seen on the mucosa of the mouth and respiratory tract.
Fowl Pox Disease Manifestation forms
The disease manifest itself into two forms ie
- Subcutaneous form
This form rarely causes death in birds and they may recover in a period of 14 days. Signs of infection under this form are as follows:
- Raised clustered lesions which may be black or white in color and are formed on the wattles, combs and eyes of the birds.
- Reduction followed by eventual stop of egg production.
- Weight loss
- Swollen and closed eyelids, lesions around the eyelids cause blindness and death may occur as a result of thirst and hunger.
- Diphtheric form
Under this form, lesions are produced on the mucosa of the esophagus and windpipe that appear white. The lesions produce mucus and pus that obstruct/block the windpipe bringing about breathing difficulties.Lesions in the mouth become painful and prevent the birds from taking in food but may drink water, this causes reduction in weight.
Quick discerning signs
The following are the most visible fowl pox signs, you can note them at a glance.
- Pimples or scabs on the on birds combs, wattles, eyelids
- High body temperatures
- Watery discharge from the eyes
- Difficulty in breathing accompanied by wheezing sound.
- Reduced appetite
- Tiredness followed by sudden death
Disease prevention and Control
- Timely vaccination ie 3rd week in hot areas and 6th week in other areas.
Note: Never vaccinate sick birds.
- When introducing new flock into the farm isolate them for at least 3 weeks, fowl pox takes time to manifest and this isolation may help to avoid disease spread to the existing flock.
- Observe newly introduced birds regularly for any signs of the disease and take the right action.
- Practice “All in all out poultry management technique”
- Keep wild birds away by fencing poultry yard using wire mesh, wild birds spread the disease through their droppings or any form form of secretion.
- Ensure all visitors disinfect their shoes or vehicles at the entrance since people are the main threat to spread the disease.
- Disinfect poultry equipment-feeders and waterers.
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