Case of Avian Pox in Long Beach Prompts Advisory to Protect Pet Birds, Chickens

An identified case of a bird infected with avian pox in Long Beach has prompted Long Beach Animal Care Services (ACS) to urge the community to be on alert and protect pet birds and chickens against the virus.

“While avian pox cannot be transmitted to humans, dogs or cats, it can cause significant mortality in certain populations of birds, including flocks of chickens,” Ted Stevens, manager of ACS, said in a statement today.

The California Animal Health and Food Safety (CAHFS) laboratory confirmed a pigeon in Long Beach was infected with avian pox, according to ACS. Other types of birds, including crows, were also suspected to have the virus. Avian pox spreads among birds and is part of the larger family of poxviruses.

“Avian pox causes blisters on the unfeathered parts of a bird’s skin (eye, head, feet), which then turn into vesicles, nodules and then burst and form scabs, much like human smallpox,” according to the release. “It is transmitted from bird to bird via contact such as pecking, but can also be transmitted via mosquitoes, which have been shown to carry and transmit the virus to birds for up to a month.”

Prevention methods courtesy of ACS include mosquito control and vaccination for specific types of avian pox, including pigeon pox and fowl pox:

  • Consult a veterinarian regarding vaccination for any pet birds or chickens.
  • Please do not feed wildlife. Feeding wildlife, including birds, may lead to large concentrations of animals around food, increasing the spread of disease.
  • Remove standing water from around the home to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
  • If you observe a sick wild animal, do not approach the animal. Report sick or injured animals to Animal Care Services by calling (562) 570-7387 and providing your observations as well as the location of the animal.

For more information about ACS, visit the website here.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.