Western Australian pigeon keepers are encouraged to take precautions following the detection of a reportable and contagious viral disease in wild pigeons and doves in the Perth metropolitan area.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) confirmed the detection of pigeon paramyxovirus type 1 (PPMV1) in wild pigeons in East Perth, Gosnells and Cannington.
Although the virus was first diagnosed in WA in domesticated pigeons in November 2015, and more recently in Perth during October and November this year, this is the first time PPMV1 has been detected in wild pigeons and doves.
Early signs of PPMV1 infection includes 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.
DPIRD veterinary officer Siva Thayaparan said PPMV1 spreads via faeces or other bodily discharges from infected birds, and infection could also occur through contamination of the environment, feed, water, equipment and human clothing.
“The virus may remain infectious in the environment for several weeks and although pigeons are most affected, evidence suggests other avian species may be infected. There is negligible risk to other animal species and no risk to human health,” Dr Thayaparan said.
“Reducing the risk of PPMV1 to domesticated birds can be achieved through vaccination and sound biosecurity practices.
“It is recommended not to feed wild birds to prevent then coming together, and to regularly clean and change the water in bird baths to decrease the risk of disease transmission.”
Dr Thayaparan said WA bird owners were 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
Any unusual disease signs should be reported immediately to your local DPIRD veterinarian or the Emergency Animal Disease hotline on 1800 675 888.
Media contact: Lisa Bertram/Donna Coleman, media liaison, +61 (0)8 9368 3937