19/04/2021 Urgent Announcement – Paramyxo virus Outbreak

Over the last couple of weeks there has been an increased number of mortalities amongst feral pigeon/doves and other wild birds in portions of the Eastern Cape. Post-mortems and laboratory tests performed at Onderstepoort have confirmed Pigeon Paramyxo virus as cause.

Pigeon Paramyxo virus (PPMV-1) is a variant of Newcastle disease virus (APMV-1), which in turn is one of the 12 serotypes of Avian Paramyxo virus found in avian species. Newcastle disease virus is predominantly associated with poultry, while other serotypes associated are with other species of avians. All species of avian are susceptible to Paramyxo virus, but in the case of Pigeon Paramyxo virus it is mainly pigeons/doves and passerines that are affected. In practice we find that parrots are seldom affected by Paramyxo virus. Transmission of Paramyxo virus is either by direct contact with infected body fluids like faeces, nasal, and ocular discharge or indirectly through contaminated clothes and hands. The virus is stable and can survive in the environment for several weeks.

Symptoms include lethargy, diarrhoea, vomiting, respiratory distress, ocular discharges, neurological signs such as tremors, twisting of the neck and circling.

Parrot breeders and pet parrot owners have no need for panic but should still restrict exposure of their parrots to feral pigeons/doves, birds and poultry while implementing good biosecurity measures. Where pigeons/doves and poultry are housed on the same premises as other birds it is recommended that these species be vaccinated with an inactivated Pigeon Paramyxo or Newcastle virus vaccine, respectively. There is no Paramyxo virus vaccine available for parrots and therefore not recommended to vaccinate them.

Newcastle disease is a communicable disease, and any suspected cases must be reported to your local state veterinarian.