Pigeon keepers in the Mid West are encouraged to take precautions following the detection of a reportable viral disease in wild pigeons and doves.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) recently identified pigeon paramyxovirus type 1 (PPMV1) in wild doves in Waggrakine, an outer northern suburb of Geraldton.
PPMV1 was first diagnosed in WA in domesticated pigeons in 2015 and more recently detected in wild birds in the Perth metropolitan region in November 2021.
DPIRD veterinary officer Siva Thayaparan said the detection indicated that PPMV1 was present in the Geraldton region as well as the Perth metropolitan area.
“Vaccination and sound biosecurity practices can reduce the risk of PPMV1 to domesticated birds,” he said.
It is recommended not to feed wild birds to prevent them from coming together, and to regularly clean and change the water in bird baths to decrease the risk of disease transmission.
“The Geraldton case was reported by a member of the public who observed wild doves showing neurological signs and sudden death,” Dr Thayaparan said.
“Early signs of PPMV1 infection include lethargy, ruffled feathers, increased thirst, and loss of appetite. Within 72 hours, symptoms may worsen to include diarrhoea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, weakness and paralysis of the wings and legs, and death.”
PPMV1 spreads easily between birds or through contamination of the environment, feed, water, equipment and human clothing. The virus may remain infectious in the environment for several weeks.
“Although pigeons are most affected, evidence suggests other avian species may also be infected,” Dr Thayaparan said.
“There is negligible risk to other animal species and no risk to human health.”
WA bird owners are encouraged to restrict the movement of unwell domesticated pigeons, quarantine all new birds before introducing them to the existing flock, and prevent wild pigeons from coming into contact with domestic pigeons and their food or water.
For additional information on PPMV1, refer to the department’s website www.agric.wa.gov.au/livestock-biosecurity/pigeon-paramyxovirus-ppmv1
PPMV1 is a reportable disease in WA. Report signs of PPMV1 or any signs of unusual illness or mortalities in animals to your local DPIRD veterinarian or the Emergency Animal Disease hotline on 1800 675 888.
Jodie Thomson/Megan Broad, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937