Publication - Advice and guidance

Paramyxovirus infection: how to spot and report the disease

Published: 30 Oct 2018

Advice on what to do if you suspect there is an outbreak of this infectious disease.

Published:
30 Oct 2018
Paramyxovirus infection: how to spot and report the disease

Pigeon paramyxovirus (PPMV) usually affects pigeons. It doesn’t normally affect humans. PPMV is a notifiable animal disease.

Latest situation: the disease is currently present in Great Britain.

Clinical signs

Signs of paramyxovirus infection in pigeons may include:

  • nervous sings, including trembling wings and heads, and twisting of the neck
  • partial paralysis of wings and legs (birds may fall over on landing and be unable to feed)
  • unusually wet and liquidy faeces (diarrhoea) that are often greenish in colour
  • quietness, loss of appetite and reluctance to move

The disease is very contagious, so it is common for most of the pigeons sharing a loft to display clinical signs at the same time.

If you suspect signs of any notifiable diseases, you must immediately notify your Scotland: field service local office at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Failure to do so is an offence. 

How PPMV is spread

The disease is spread by direct contact between pigeons and through:

  • pigeon transporters that have not been adequately cleaned and disinfected
  • drinking water in lofts and transporters
  • pigeon fanciers carrying infection on their clothes, hands and feet

The disease can be introduced to a loft of kept pigeons through contact with wild pigeons.

The disease can be spread to chickens if, for example, their feed is infected with the faeces of infected pigeons. In chickens paramyxovirus can cause Newcastle disease.

Human health implications

It does not normally affect humans.

Legislation

The main domestic legislation on anthrax is The Diseases of Poultry (Scotland) Order 2003.

Biosecurity

The best defence, as with all exotic animal diseases, is a high level of awareness and good biosecurity. Guidance published jointly by the Scottish Government, Defra, and the Welsh Government on biosecurity and preventing welfare impacts in poultry and captive birds is available.

Contact

If you suspect signs of any notifiable diseases, you must immediately notify your Scotland: field service local office at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Failure to do so is an offence.