On the island of Jersey, pigeons are affected by a viral disease in Great Britain. According to experts, it is a paramyxovirus that can affect pigeons and poultry and is deadly.
Pigeons contracting this virus, also known as Newcastle disease, experience a wide range of neurological symptoms, including violently twisted necks and flapping wings, leading many to label the birds as “Zombie Pigeons”.
In Jersey, according to the local paper The Mirror, Some birds had to be euthanized due to the disease due to the severe symptoms: They lose a lot of weight, have green stools, walk in circles, cannot fly, and are reluctant to move.
Although this virus cannot affect humans, it can cause conjunctivitis in people who handle sick birds.
A speaker for Refugio de Animales de JSPCA (Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals) on the Island of Jersey said: “In recent weeks there has been an increase in the number of ground pigeons entering the JSPCA shelter, and many of them have shown neurological signs such as neck-craning, circling, or an inability to stop.”
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All of these, he noted, were signs of the pigeon paramyxovirus. “Captive birds are a reportable disease (i.e., suspected cases must be reported to the authorities), but wild birds are not.”
“Not only do affected birds show neurological symptoms, but they are often thin and have green droppings. Sometimes they also have injuries because they are unable to balance or fly well,” he added.
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The shelter’s spokesman said the disease is untreatable, “and many birds die within a few days.” In addition, “anyone who survives will continue to shed the virus and pose a threat to other birds. At the JSPCA, affected birds are humanely euthanized.”
According to UK government officials, the disease can be prevented by vaccinating pigeons against the virus. “Ask your veterinarian for advice (if you’re hosting pigeon shows or races, you should make sure all participating birds are vaccinated) and have strict biosecurity on your premises,” they explained.