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Testing for Avian Pox Virus

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Last Updated: January 12, 2015

Animal Genetics offers testing for Avian Pox Virus, a contagious virus that affects a wide variety of domestic and wild birds.  There are two types of this virus – “cutaneous” and “wet.”

Cutaneous pox produces wart-like lesions on parts of the bird that do not have feathers including the feet, eye and beak areas. As they develop, lesions will break open and then form a scab, which can be contagious.  The cutaneous type is usually not fatal, but can cause birds to have difficulty breathing or seeing, depending on the location of the lesions.

Wet pox causes growths to form inside the mouth, throat and lungs and in the mucus areas of the eye.  This form of Avian Pox Virus can cause temporary or permanent damage to the respiratory system and eyesight and can also be fatal.

Both types of Avian Pox Virus will inhibit a bird’s ability to feed, and infected birds can become weak and susceptible to secondary infections.  Younger birds and certain species such as canaries appear to be particularly affected.

The virus is spread by contact with infected birds or with contaminated food, water or objects like birdfeeders, birdbaths, nests, etc.  Mosquitoes who have fed on infected birds can also spread the virus. There is no cure for the virus, so infected birds must be quarantined while they are recovering.  An infected bird will be weak and sick for approximately three to five weeks.

Animal Genetics can provide confirmation of suspected Pox Virus infection by testing a sample collected from a lesion with a cotton swab. The test price is $ 24.50 and turnaround is currently 5 -7 business days.  For more information about testing for Avian Pox Virus, contact Animal Genetics toll free at (800) 514-9672.

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