Emerging disease threat to poultry?

My fellow blogger MottledThrush tells us about a new strain of avian pox in wild birds in Britain. Could this be a new threat to poultry?

Avian pox (Avipoxvirus) can infect many bird species. For Britain, Birdwatch magazine tells us how the new Avipoxvirus strain has been found in the great tit (Parus major). We’re invited to report any suspected cases. If you scroll down the Birdwatch page I’ve linked to, you’ll find out what infected birds look like and where you could report them.

Previously, Avipoxvirus was found in other garden birds common in Britain. It was found in the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) and in the woodpigeon (Columba palumbus). Not yet the new strain, so far as I know, but it’s probably just a matter of time. The Birdwatch page I’ve linked to says that the new strain is spreading from the South East of England and that it’s suspected of having come over from continental Europe. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Nasty echoes of emerging disease threats to our trees.

Thinking of birds again, we’ve no reason to assume that other birds are safe from the new Avipoxvirus strain. Other birds including chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus, ducks, geese and turkeys.

Poultry farmers and vets know Avipoxvirus as fowlpox. Fowlpox is quite well studied by now. Here’s a review of what’s known about Avipoxvirus and about its potential for use as a vector for vaccine delivery. That review was published last year. This month the Avipoxvirus genome sequence has been published.

But as I write this, there’s no mention of the new fowlpox strain being found in poultry. It hasn’t yet been reported at the Poultry Site or in Farmers Weekly poultry news. It’s not yet clear whether existing strategies for the prevention and treatment of fowlpox in poultry (scroll down for the section on prevention and treatment) will work for the new strain. Not yet.

MottledThrush and I are both watching for news on the new strain of fowlpox. If you see anything about it, please let us know.


About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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