Monthly archives: January, 2017

Pigeon Radio Monday,23rd January,2017


Ivan Fonti
In studio guests, Tony and Angelo Barbara
The Australian Viral Saga continues. The mystery virus
has now been positively diagnosed by Dr.Rob Marshall and Dr. Mark White
Avian vets in Sydney Australia. This diagnosis was made after 12 lofts in Sydney became infected.
There is also an avian pathologist in the Netherlands, who is a worldwide expert on pigeon viruses, also showing an interest and working on this together with the Sydney Australian Vets.
Announcement from Dr. Rob Marshall, B. V. Sc, M.A.V. C. Sc (Avian Health)
positive virus diagnosis, ROTAVIRUS. with assembled panel…

PRF – W.A. George Azar – President P.R.F.W.A.
Tony McPherson – GMPF
Gary Rainer – Flyer in Kyabram
Charlie Grech – VRPU – Wallan club

Pigeon Radio Monday,16th January,2017


Ivan Fonti
In studio guests, Tony and Angelo Barbara
Australian National Racing Pigeon Board – Grant Patterson
Australian National Pigeon Association – Fancy Pigeons – Christopher Schütz
Panel discussion on the internet attacks concerning last week’s program and the PMV1 Vaccine dosage discussion
Panel members include…
Peter Matic
Tony McPherson
Kenny McCall
Christopher Schütz
Tony Barbara
Angelo Barbara
Ivan Fonti

Support for Pigeon Radio Australia, outweighs the negative troll, internet bullies


When we read stuff and receive messages like this. Thanks to all our supporters. Thanks Mario for this uplifting message. One of the many positive messages we receive daily, via email or phone…

Support for Pigeon Radio Australia, outweighs the negative troll, internet bullies…

From: Mario Magrin [mario.magrin@xxxxx] To: Ivan Fonti
Message: Dear lvan,lm getting back to the sport of Pigeon Racing, after 18 years. It’s a big passion of mine, and only gave it up to save my marriage? It didn’t, but now I’m remarried and starting again.
Mate, what your doing with the pigeon radio is probably the biggest media coverage there’s ever been! So don’t ever doubt or question yourself.
Ivan, when I was a boy of nine years old, racing pigeons with my father, I found out what jealousy and  stirring was all about. He said we will try even harder to win! So when we, did the more prizes we won, and the more they shut up!
So mate,keep going! I know its hard at times, but you are an ambassador to Racing Pigeon Sport! Block out the negative people. You have brought the pigeon community together, with good and bad comments via the public. You interact well with everyone and keep people informed.
I, as a pigeon flyer, can’t thank you enough for this supportive media broadcasting. You do have a lot of support mate. If you need to phone for a chat at anytime don’t hesitate
Mario Magrin.
Sent from my iPhone

The saga of the PPMV1 virus in Sydney and Melbourne Australia – Dr. George Arzey BVSc, MSc



With rumors and innuendoes reigning supreme, the epidemiology of PPMV1 in Australia, to date, remains obscure and even the epidemiologist’s dearest friend – time, may not provide further clues. Dr George Arzey BVSc, MSc

PPMV1, Melbourne and Sydney

Dr George Arzey BVSc, MSc

(Dove of peace by Kelly.





An animal that can carry in its beak the olive branch – the universal symbol of peace and from its far end produce Saltpetre, an essential ingredient in the production of gun powder, must be as enigmatic as humans.


I have not found pigeons or their owners to be as enigmatic as some of the decisions that were made during the PPMV1 outbreaks in Victoria and NSW.



On 2/9/2011 a veterinarian in Melbourne, who had consulted to pigeon lofts suffering high mortality since the 27/8/11, was alerted by a call from Victoria DPI informing him about the diagnosis of pigeon paramyxovirus 1 (PPMV1) in Shepparton, Victoria, in a flock of Persian High Flyers. In this flock the disease was initially suspected to be Chlamydiosis (in pigeons – Ornithosis) but the presence of nervous signs led the Shepparton veterinarian to suspect PPMV1.5 At the time of the diagnosis in Shepparton, at least 2 flocks in Melbourne, later diagnosed with PPMV1, were already under investigation for a range of possible disease agents like roundworms, coccidiosis, Circovirus, Adenovirus and Herpes viruses. No nervous signs were observed/reported in these 2 flocks and PPMV1 was not suspected. 6


Retrospectively, we know that that clinical signs suggesting PPMV1 were first noted in Victoria in 2 affected lofts as early as the 4th and 7th of August and in 3 other lofts between the 14 and 16 of August 5, at least 2 weeks before the disease was first confirmed on the 2/9/11.


A virus that has never before been reported in Australia – PPMV1 of European origin (genotype VI of APMV1) had arrived on our shores. Soon the old rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne took a new dimension – Which city had it first?


As early as September 2011, suggestions were made that the infection in Melbourne originated from Sydney but no PPMV1 was reported in Sydney until May 2012 and no useful information was received from Victoria to enable tracing of the alleged origin of the PPMV1 in NSW.


They could not agree where the capital should be. Could they agree on the origin of PPMV1?


With rumours and innuendoes reigning supreme, the epidemiology of PPMV1 in Australia, to date, remains obscure and even the epidemiologist’s dearest friend – time, may not provide further clues.


During the week of the 28/8/11 a clinic in Melbourne, unaware that PPMV1 was no longer an exotic disease agent and a case seen earlier in the clinic would turned out to be PPMV1, admitted other clients and their birds had potentially been exposed to the virus during the visit. When PPMV1 was diagnosed, clients were advised to isolate the birds that visited the surgery albeit, some pigeons had already been placed with other pigeons in the lofts with a potential opportunity to infect them. Indeed, one of the birds, a racing pigeon admitted for surgery while some of the PPMV1 birds were hospitalised, came down with the disease6.


It has been alleged6 that the infected pigeons originated from a pet shop in Melbourne. This shop provides fanciers with a venue to sell their excess pigeons on consignment. A significant mortality was experienced in the shop starting on the 29/8/11. According to the Melbourne veterinarian’s notes, believing that the mortality was due to Circo virus, the shop owner contacted customers inviting them to collect their pigeons. Whether it was Circo virus or PPMV1, haven’t people in risk enterprises learned anything about biosecurity since the Brunswick poultry show of 1902 when organisers faced with high mortality of chickens from Avian influenza insisted that all exhibits be returned to their owners, thus spreading the disease far and wide?


Against this background, the characteristics of the disease, high likelihood of  spread; especially in urban areas, poor knowledge about the pigeon sectors in Australia and some uncertainty about the place where the virus appeared first, it is possible to understand why the eradication of the disease was deemed at early stages to be considerably difficult or practically impossible. Historically, no country ever succeeded in eradicating PPMV1 (no country ever tried).


At the time of the initial round of outbreaks in Victoria in August – September 2011, the disease was not notifiable in Victoria, Tasmania, NT and ACT. Across Australia the disease was not covered by Exotic Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA) and the pigeon sector was not a party to official deliberation on aspects of control, surveillance or eradication of the disease. AUSVETPLAN covered Newcastle disease but paramyxovirus in racing and fancy pigeons is not regarded internationally as Newcastle disease virus nor was it regarded as such in the Australian Plan.


In the absence of immediate legislative powers to eradicate the disease, the stated primary objective of “identifying the extent of the disease and limiting its spread where possible” might have been a realistic objective provided that biosecurity and vaccination became practical tools at early stages of the outbreak.


Biosecurity could indeed be a powerful tool for minimisation and prevention of the risk of diseases. However, my observations of the biosecurity aspects in lofts that I visited in Sydney tend to suggest that the biosecurity was unlikely to succeed for a variety of reasons, not the least – its understanding and good practice require many hours of practise and demand as much vigilance in the backyard setting of the lofts as on poultry farms.


The big hope was the possibility that a pigeon PPMV1 vaccine became available in the shortest time or that the efficacy and safety of the chicken NDV vaccines were demonstrated within a few weeks rather than months after the beginning of the outbreak and widespread vaccination would follow.


The pigeon

My miniscule knowledge of the pigeon world was a poor match to my knowledge of Newcastle disease in poultry and PPMV1. It became apparent as time progressed and my knowledge improved that the pigeon sector in Australia, especially the racing sector, was fragmented and with multi-layers of politics, rivalry and other well known human traits. It also became clear that the pigeon sector in NSW was bewildered by the response in Victoria and frustrated by the forlorn hope of gaining access to good pigeon PPMV1 vaccines that were available overseas.


In an effort to inform the pigeon sector in NSW of developments in Victoria and to clarify interstate movement restrictions, I slowly accumulated a list of emails and contact was established with sectors and individuals in the industry. The sector was predominantly hungry for information and at the same time not shy of spreading information quickly but sometimes inadvertently also inaccurately. Rumours and some very interesting “fish tales” were interwoven with facts in such a delicate framework that separation was almost impossible without a hefty measure of trust. Getting accurate and quick information to the sector was a prime objective for successful communication. I do not believe that this has been achieved for the entire sector.


I also became acquainted with the magical history of the pigeon and although this diminutive creature is no match for the stature and muscular equine architecture, nevertheless I was developing a soft spot for this bird and its unsurpassed determination and service to humanity. It was later, in the midst of the outbreak in NSW that the sadness, depth of the potential consequences, as well as the enduring and endearing nature of the Australian spirit became clearer to me when I met a flyer that served in the Australian signal corps in Papua New Guinea during World War 2. His loft in Sydney became infected with PPMV1 and to witness a life time of dedication to a hobby and a glorious loft being decimated by the disease was a sad experience, yet ameliorated by the strength of the human spirit that I encountered and by the comradeship shown by neighbours and other pigeon flyers.


The Australian War Memorial web site4 perhaps tells a story that we should remember when and if we are inclined to classify the pigeon as a pest, or when we do risk assessments, ponder vaccination risks and decide the faith of animals by actions or inactions;


“The 8th Australian Pigeon Section was sent to Port Moresby in December 1942 to support operations on the Kokoda Trail. The pigeons were trained to carry a message for up to 120 miles (193 km) at an average speed of 30 miles per hour (48km/hr). They were particularly useful in emergency situations when no other method of communication was available.

In 1943, a British organisation, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), began awarding the Dickin Medal to “animals displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defense Units”. It is regarded as the ‘animal’s Victoria Cross’. Two Australian pigeons were awarded the Dickin Medal in February 1947.”


Chronological events

“Many far wiser than we-
the angels in heaven above,
the demons down under the sea,
can they ever solve the mystery of PPMV

In the land under, by the sea?”

(A few plagiarised words from the poem by E A Poe, Annabel Lee)


From its first appearance in Victoria in August 2011 until 16th November 2011, 50 infected premises were reported in the Melbourne area as well as 6 detections among wild pigeons in the same areas. The Victorian approach consisted of detection, quarantine, tracing and surveillance. Initially the Victorian DPI recommended that shows, other gathering and racing be avoided and later (30/9/12) a ban was placed on the movements, shows, racing, etc of pigeons.


Lofts in the infected areas were allowed to exercise but to minimise the potential lateral infection between neighbouring lofts it was recommended that a coordinated schedule of exercise would minimise the opportunity for contacts between pigeons from different lofts and further spread of the infection.


Aspects of the approach in Victoria and later in NSW followed, to some degree, the European approach as illustrated in Directive 92/66/EEC (CEC, 1992) – “the control requirements are that infected pigeons be kept in quarantine for 60 days after recovery from clinical signs & all pigeons must have certification of vaccination to take part in races or shows”.


Interestingly, a paper published in 2011 (Avian Pathology, Vol 40) by one of the more internationally renowned Newcastle disease experts stated that “the EU control measures are not having the required impact”.


Initially, other jurisdictions placed restrictions on movements of pigeons and equipment from Victoria (later on NSW), while SA placed restrictions on movements of pigeons from all jurisdictions, later seeking harmonisation of movement restrictions across Australia. The fact that until now PPMV1 has been reported only in Victoria (mainly Melbourne) and in NSW (Sydney), suggests that, overall, the movement restrictions worked and it is unlikely that feral pigeons played a role in the spread of PPMV1 over long distances.





The Victorian outbreaks

  1. The first clinical cases that were investigated and turned out to be PPMV1 were presented to a veterinarian in Melbourne on the 27/8.
  2. First confirmation/diagnosis – Friday 2/9/11 in Persian High flyers in Shepparton, Vic.
  3. Animal Health Surveillance5 indicates that clinical signs were first noted in 2 affected lofts on the 4th and 7th of August and in 3 other lofts between the 14 and 16 of August
  4. The next cluster of 18 PPMV1 infected lofts started showing clinical signs between 22nd of August and 2nd September
  5. By the end of August 2011, when the Melbourne veterinarian first encountered PPMV1 pigeons in his surgery, significant number of lofts in Victoria were already infected with PPMV1.
  6. By the end of September 36 lofts in Melbourne/Shepparton were reported to be infected  with PPMV1.5
  7. A link to a pet shop was suspected as early as August 2011.
  8. Apparently investigations also suggested a link to lofts in Sydney but no information was ever provided to enable investigations.
  9. By 22nd March 2012, 74 pigeon premises in Victoria had been detected with PPMV1. Unofficial information from pigeon fanciers in Victoria indicates that PPMV1 is still infecting about 1-2 lofts per week (Dec 2012)
  10. Most of the detections were in fancy pigeons and only rarely in racing pigeons. The infection was reported in lofts in Shepparton, Melbourne and on 19/12/11 in a single loft in Cobram, North Victoria.
  11. Exercise in the infected areas was allowed and minimisation of mixing of birds from different neighbouring lofts during exercise was apparently coordinated through voluntary ad-hoc scheduling of the flights at different times.
  12. The first report of PPMV1 infection in wild pigeons is dated 10/10/11 and since then it has been detected in 16 different locations mostly within 5km of infected lofts. Also a collared sparrow hawk (27/1/12) and spotted dove (1/3/12) were detected with PPMV1 in Melbourne.
  13. The last reported location was in Geelong where between 12/3/12 and 20/4/12 approximately 600 feral pigeons died at a grain silo. This was the first and only reported case of mortality of feral pigeons outside the Melbourne area. No further mortality in wild pigeons has been reported since that date.
  14. The estimated incubation period in Victoria was 3 days5 and on this basis it was concluded that the passage of infection through a chain of domestic or feral pigeons occurred within a short period of time.


The NSW Outbreaks


Date Type Location Links/comments
3/5/12 Donek, fancy Parramatta area Victoria
28/6/12 Racing Inner West 16/6 Mudgee/R

Tossing 20/6

1/7/12 Racing Inner West 16/6 Mudgee/R

Same basket as 2

No tossing!

3/7/12 Racing? Penrith area Markets/Auction 3/7/12
5/7/12 Racing Liverpool area 23/6 not Mudgee race
5/7/12* Racing Inner West 16/6 Mudgee/R

20/6 Tossing

6/7/12 Racing Inner West Tossing 20/6
8/7/12 Racing South East 16/6 Mudgee/R

20/6 tossing

10/7/12 Racing Inner West 16/6 Mudgee/R
12/7/12 Donek, fancy Fairfield area ???
13/10/12 M/Eastern, fancy Bankstown area purchased <3wks
16/10/12 Donek, fancy Fairfield area purchased >6wks
18/10/12 Mixed Blacktown area purchased >7wks
7/11/12 Hobby Inner West multiple intro of feral
9/11/12 Feral Elizabeth Bay 1/12 sick
14/11/12 Racing Liverpool area only unvacc. young
20/11/12 Feral Haberfield multiple reported sighting of sick pigeons but No confirmation or mortality.
07/12/12 Feral Ashfield area 3 submitted & Positive
19/12/12 Racing Schofields area Not vaccinated
20/12/12 Racing Blacktown area 4-8 wks old vac. once
3/1/13 Racing Rooty Hill area 6 wks old.  Vacc once
14/1/13 Racing Fairfield area 3 wks old.  2 new birds introduced 2 wks earlier. Not vac.
3/3/13 Racing Rooty Hill area 6 wks old . Vacc once
3/3/13 Racing Rossmore area. 6 wks. Old.  Vacc once

Key:- R – Race


All reported cases of PPMV1 in NSW in either domestic or feral pigeons were in the greater Sydney area.


Unlike Victoria, most outbreaks in NSW were associated with racing pigeons.


Most outbreaks in racing pigeons in NSW in July/August were associated with one racing event and possibly with a tossing event. However, the occurrence of PPMV1 in a few lofts not associated with these events indicates the existence of other unrecognised foci of infection among domestic pigeon in Sydney.


After the first wave of PPMV1 outbreaks between July and August 2012, a second wave occurred between October 2012 and January 2013. None of the newly infected lofts were vaccinated or had completed a full vaccination program on all birds and especially the newly hatched young pigeons.


The first reported case of PPMV1 in feral pigeons in Sydney was in the Elizabeth Bay area on the 9/11/12 when one of 12 feral pigeons that were routinely fed by a resident was found sick and PPMV1 was confirmed. The other 11 feral pigeons were monitored by the resident for 3 weeks and remained healthy. The sick pigeon recovered but was euthanased by the veterinarian.


It could be speculated that prior to this event feral pigeons introduced PPMV1 into a hobby loft on the 7/11/12. The owner of this loft introduced some sick feral pigeons to the loft however, none died and none was available for sampling when I visited the loft.


From the first detection of PPMV1 in domestic pigeons in Sydney in May 2012, it took almost 6 months for the virus to appear in feral pigeons.


Clinical signs – NSW

The following signs were reported from NSW outbreaks:


  • Reluctance to fly out of the loft


  • Reduced feed intake/appear disinterested


  • Increased thirst


  • Watery droppings


  • Mortality varied from 5% to 40% but lots of culling by some owners.


  • Unlike the Victorian pigeons – No respiratory or nervous signs.


The difference in the clinical signs experienced by pigeons infected with PPMV1 in Victoria and NSW is an interesting aspect with some possible impact on the understanding of the epidemiology of the disease. The absence of nervous and respiratory signs in pigeons infected with PPMV1 in NSW and the relatively lower level of mortality reported in most flocks in NSW (higher than 50% in Victoria) may also be reflected in the clinical manifestations in feral pigeons in NSW and with lower rate of mortality it is possible that some feral pigeon mortality has gone unnoticed. No mass mortality of pigeons, similar to the 600 mortality in Geelong, has been reported in NSW and investigations of reported cases of sporadic mortality in feral pigeons yielded no evidence of PPMV1 until November 2012.


The change in pattern between the clinical signs in NSW and Victoria is not easily explainable but is consistent with other reported PPMV1 cases1. Differences in clinical signs between regions were reported in chickens during the NDV outbreaks in NSW during 1998-2002 (Arzey, unpublished data). In some regions nervous signs predominated and in others respiratory signs predominated.


Different disease patterns were also recognised in Europe between 1983, 19841 with nervous signs predominant in 1983 changing to predominantly gut manifestations in 19842 and currently, a combination of the 1983 and 1984 patterns. It is also interesting that no respiratory signs were reported in Europe with PPMV1.


NSW Pathology/Post Mortem

Post mortem findings were inconsistent and varied from not significant or mild. Presence of tiny haemorrhages over the heart and darkish congested lungs were noted in some pigeons. Mottled, congested liver was reported in some pigeons. Spleen was enlarged in some but normal in other pigeons and also crop and stomach either empty or with food contents in others. Air-sac appearance was generally normal and green diarrhoea was present in some. Swabbing of the cloaca (vent) of affected pigeons produced pinkish tinged swabs indicating inflamed intestines. With time I could predict the PCR results from the pinkish tinge of the swab.


Significant issues


  1. Vaccination

The disease was deemed fairly early (rightly or wrongly) to be ineradicable and in such circumstances the only available practical strategy was to minimise the spread and prevent the disease through biosecurity and vaccination.


No pigeon vaccine was available in Australia. However, at least 2 inactivated pigeon PPMV1 vaccines produced by reputable international manufacturers and widely used in Europe and USA were on offer, requiring approval by the appropriate Australian authorities (inactivated vaccines are vaccines where the immunising component functions but is not alive and therefore can’t infect other birds as is the case with a live vaccine. It is extremely unlikely considering the killing process that any other live organism would be present, accidentally, in vaccines produced by reputable manufacturers).


Despite support from various jurisdictions, the poultry industry and lobbying by the pigeon sectors, at the time this paper is being written, neither of the 2 vaccines has been approved for use in Australia.


The Victorian DPI web site provided the following advice to pigeon owners about vaccination;


An overseas, efficacious inactivated pigeon vaccine that has been used extensively around the world was deemed unable to meet the Australian protocol by the agency responsible for the importation of vaccines and meanwhile PPMV1 was spreading.


The concern was the risk that a vaccine could be contaminated with other viruses or pathogens. Indeed an important aspect to consider but it is always important, when assessing risks, to distinguish between ‘probable’ and ‘possible’, two words that express the wide gap between what is possible and what is realistically likely. Two words that have far reaching impact on the understanding and the perception of risk and perhaps at time of significant emergencies, when a solution is desperately required, understanding the difference between possible and probable is critical.


As the Australasian Veterinary Poultry Association Chair of the Committee on Exotic diseases and Importation I have argued the toss, many times, against importation of certain products but I experienced some difficulties understanding the strength of the arguments against the importation of 2 inactivated vaccines, manufactured by 2 reputable companies and been used for years with no ill effect in many other countries. Especially, when vaccines were required urgently and when at stake was; the ability to control the outbreak successfully, possible impact on native pigeons and other native birds in Australia, not to mention possible mutation of the virus to virulence in poultry.


The available Australian chicken Newcastle disease vaccines were of unknown efficacy or safety in pigeons, a point that was repeatedly emphasised by jurisdictions in their posted web advice in the earliest stages of the outbreak in Victoria. The chicken vaccines were also described at times as ineffective in pigeons, as illustrated by the text below, taken from the “PMV Outbreak – South Australian Homing Pigeon Association7;


Whether this text was an accurate presentation of the explanation provided by Dr Cameron, or not, is of little relevance since the posted text had the capacity to reach a wide audience and leave a long lasting memory about the ineffectiveness of the chicken NDV vaccines available in Australia.


Demonstrating the efficacy of the chicken Newcastle Disease vaccines became a critical aspect for any chance of adoption of vaccination by the pigeon sector, however, the first vaccination trial in Victoria with the chicken vaccines was not successful. Consequently, although some overseas anecdotal data indicated that chicken vaccines “worked on pigeons in other countries” and some scientific data was presented to enable to argue that chicken vaccines can work in pigeons, it is of no surprise that there was little enthusiasm shown by the pigeon fraternity to adopt vaccination against PPMV1.


Contradicting recommendations were given by veterinarians in NSW and Victoria and more than acquiring a sense of urgency about protecting their birds, some owners were either not willing to vaccinate until the disease was at their front door or were concerned about the effect of a vaccine, possibly of questionable efficacy, on the ability of pigeons to race. Vaccination of pigeons became a controversial subject among many pigeon owners with some swearing that they will kill their pigeons before giving them chicken vaccines. “Chickens do not fly said one”. “I do not want to see my pigeons fly like chickens” said another. Others were adamant that any vaccinated pigeon should not be allowed to fly because it will infect all other racing pigeons.


It was not until the first outbreak of PPMV1 in NSW that preliminary results of a second vaccination trial with chicken NDV vaccines commissioned, mainly, by the Victorian Homing Association and the Central Cumberland Racing Pigeon Federation (CCF), became available. The second trial indicated dramatically different results and a more optimistic outcome; reporting NDV HI titres in the range that is recognised to be very likely to provide good protection. At last there was a technical capacity to confidently advise veterinarians and owners of pigeons that, at least, on the basis of one trial the chicken vaccines are likely to provide good protection.


Although the results of the second vaccine trial coincided with the appearance of PPMV1 in Sydney in a fancy flock of pigeons, the uptake of vaccination in NSW was sluggish at this stage and those that contemplated vaccination did so to protect only their stock birds.


The fancy pigeon loft (the first infected loft in NSW), with the consent of the owner, was culled but perhaps too much hope was placed on the culling as the ultimate tool rather than vigorously taking up vaccination at the same time. Like the fanciers in Victoria, flyers in NSW extracted all sort of “gems” on Google and from other sources indicating side effects and other possible negative effects when the chicken NDV vaccines are used. Among other reasons, the reluctance to vaccinate the racing birds was based on the belief that the vaccination will affect bird’s performance negatively during a race. This was despite the fact that it was fairly obvious that the racing birds were more likely to be the first to be exposed to PPMV1. The rationale – protecting  the most important sector in the loft, the breeders, was clear but the reasons not to vaccinate racing birds were misguided.


It was not until the detection of PPMV1 in Sydney in a number of lofts with racing birds and imposition of movement restrictions in NSW that the attitude to vaccination changed.


By 13/8/12 more than 600 pigeon lofts had been fully vaccinated in NSW and all racing pigeons in Sydney that were members of the Cumberland Federation were vaccinated.


Vaccination was also carried out on infected lofts. Mixed results were reported with clinical signs being evident in some of the lofts more than 50 days post first vaccination. However, mortality stopped. Virus was still circulating in these flocks 60 days post vaccination as evident from testing done on cloacal swabs. The prevalence of infection was low among the sampled birds and the amount of the virus detected was also low. This demonstrates that vaccinated lofts can remain infectious for long time and carry and shed the virus albeit at lower quantity. Perhaps the adoption of the EU approach – imposition of quarantine for 60 days, requires reassessment.


The inability to access pigeon vaccines, the unsuccessful first vaccination trial and the reluctance to use chicken vaccines were probably the most critical aspects in the PPMV1 saga. The impact was not only on the control of the disease but also, very likely, impacted on the welfare of pigeons and their owners. It raises an interesting conundrum about the levels of risks that could be acceptable during emergencies in order to enable the use of an effective remedy and the relative importance of veterinary obligations to protect vulnerable animals during emergency situations.


Unfortunately, two of the most valuable elements of successful disease control became a casualty – precious time and the broadcasting of clear unambiguous messages.



  1. Approach to control

A variety of issues affected the control of PPMV1 in Australia, including; the differences in the status of regulations in each jurisdiction, the disease not being recognised as an emergency disease, nor was it covered by cost sharing arrangements. Control was further complicated by the fragmentation of the sector, the difficulty to establish effective communication with pigeon owners in each jurisdiction as well as nationally, the difficulties in “selling” the vaccination concept and different approaches to vaccination in different jurisdictions.


Effective early control with vaccination was feasible provided either a pigeon specific vaccine was allowed into the country or provided the efficacy of the Australian chicken NDV vaccines was demonstrated in pigeons at early stages of the outbreak – enabling a vigorous vaccination message and early adoption of vaccination by many lofts.


Depopulation of infected flocks in NSW was carried out on the first 2 infected lofts. This was done following the owners’ agreement to depopulate.  Once it became clear that the spread associated with the Mudgee race was significant, no further depopulation was carried out. Infected lofts were placed in quarantine and the conditions included keeping the pigeons restricted to the loft (no exercise). The control measures and the movement controls that were introduced in NSW aimed at the imposition of restrictions for a period of 6 – 8 weeks, allowing the sector to vaccinate pigeons at least twice before racing and shows could commence.


After the 13/8/12 movement restrictions were revoked and while the disease remained notifiable, no quarantine was imposed on newly infected lofts.


Many questions can be asked regarding the control of PPMV1 in Australia as well as in other countries. While this is Australia’s first encounter with PPMV1, the disease in Europe was not successfully controlled using measures similar to the ones adopted in Australia.


Among the few questions that could be asked are the following questions:


  1. Did the outbreak of PPMV1 merit special consideration and the earliest importation of reputable inactivated overseas pigeon vaccines?


As I outlined earlier, I believe that there was a sound case for special consideration and allowing the earliest importation of the pigeon vaccines into Australia. Even following the positive results from the chicken vaccine efficacy study in Victoria, a significant number of pigeon owners was reluctant to vaccinate their pigeons, preferring to wait for the pigeon vaccine to be registered. Perhaps some are still waiting?


It is difficult to reverse messages about questionable effectiveness of a vaccine, especially during the short time available during outbreaks.  


The balance between the risk from imported, widely used, reputable vaccines and man’s obligation to effectively protect animals under their care can be viewed as a philosophical issue but it has far reaching practical ramifications that were encountered during the PPMV1 outbreaks and maybe will be encountered in the future with other minor species and other vaccines.


  1. B. Should it take months to conduct efficacy and safety trials with the Australian chicken NDV vaccines and who should conduct these trials? Who should supervise such trials? Who should pay for these trials?


  1. C. Could the failed first vaccination trial with the chicken NDV vaccines have been more successful if the approach was different?


  1. If the Victorian Homing Association and CCF (Sydney) had not initiated the second vaccination trial, would the vaccination uptake in NSW have been so successful?


  1. Is the beneficiary from successful vaccination of pigeons only the pigeon sector?


  1. Since the occurrence of PPMV1 in meat pigeon (squabs) would be classified under international rules (OIE) as Newcastle disease, what would be the impact on the poultry sector and on Australia’s international reputation?


  1. Has the potential impact of PPMV1 on native doves and pigeons been fully explored and doesn’t our native fauna deserve to benefit from appropriate government expenditure to enable the protection of this ecologically valuable sector?


  1. The public purse is tight these days but what are the obligations of governments towards animal diseases that could have serious unexpected potential impact on other animals or other sectors?


  1. If government budgets are tight and spending on the control of some diseases is curtailed, shouldn’t some appraisal of the attitude towards timely emergency use of practically safe overseas vaccines be expected?


  1. 3. Other Issues

Several other issues have risen during the outbreaks in Victoria and NSW. These include; fragmented approach to control, lack of knowledge of the epidemiology and ecology of feral pigeons and their interactions with other birds, lack of knowledge of the industry, lack of basic biosecurity understanding among many, if not most, fanciers that I visited, difficulties in communication with the broader pigeon owners’ community and possibly low level of empathy with the industry.


In some respects the pigeon sector is viewed as a leisure sector or hobby sector. This does not help to understand the enormous impact that the outbreaks and movement restrictions that followed had on many individuals and clubs.


It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss these issues in detail but it was apparent that lack of knowledge of the industry and its practices affected the understanding of various elements of risk and control. It was clear that very little knowledge is available in Australia about the feral pigeon population, its size, scale of movements and habitat. This lack of knowledge impacted on the ability to understand risks and on decisions to view PPMV1 as being endemic perhaps prematurely.


Many other issues that may require further considerations should be mentioned.


Among them; the ability of private clinics to cope with an outbreak of an exotic disease and yet function normally and effectively maintain good biosecurity, the approach and preparedness to exotic disease in non-mainstream species of animals, ability to extract critical information during significant disease outbreaks, capturing of pet shops in the biosecurity net, the practicality of quarantine, the margins of errors in risk assessments and acceptable risks during emergency disease outbreaks, the role of governments and the role of the private sector and last but not least – delivering effective service to the community with ever decreasing  government resources.


Epidemiological understanding

The source of the Victorian outbreak has not been elucidated. The first outbreak in Sydney in fancy pigeons in May was most likely as a result of the introduction of pigeons from Victoria but the primary source(s) of the outbreaks in Sydney in racing pigeons from June onwards remains unclear.  Initially the majority of the outbreaks in NSW were predominantly traced to a common race or to tossing (several lofts exercising).  More questions than answers remain as to whether the loft diagnosed on the 28/6 was indeed the index case and from where and how it acquired the infection. It is clear that the Mudgee race and/or the tossing of pigeons on the 20/6, could be regarded as a likely infection source to others but the lack of widespread infection among participants in the Mudgee race is puzzling when it is considered that 400 odd lofts participated in the race (approximately 7000 pigeons) and only 8 racing lofts in total succumbed to the infection (2 infected lofts did not participate in the race or tossing).


The incubation period (the period between infection and appearance of clinical signs) was estimated in Sydney, based on the date pigeons participated in the Mudgee race to be 2-3 weeks. This is a significantly longer period than the estimated 3 days in Victoria.


The impact on native fauna was dealt with through the 21st century unquestionable tool – risk assessments conducted by the Australian Wildlife Health Network. The risks were based on several parameters like diet, and number of sightings and conservation status. It was apparent that native or Australian birds that had pigeons as a significant element of their diets were not considered to be of high status on the conservation list and many other Australian birds that would be susceptible to PPMV1 had few opportunities for contact with domestic or feral pigeons due to different habitats. However, there is little doubt that several native pigeons and doves are likely to regularly interact with feral pigeons. The nomadic nature of some and ability to travel long distances also make some vulnerable – like the diamond dove, Bronzewing pigeons, fruit doves, pied imperial pigeon and a few others. Australia has 25 species of pigeons and doves and the future impact of widespread PPMV1 outbreaks or the disease becoming endemic has not been explored beyond the rudimentary. How critical were the first 6-7 months of PPMV1 spreading in Victoria and subsequently in Sydney to the survival and future ecological fate of some of Australian native birds is a question that may take years to be answered.


Perhaps it is worthwhile to quote Australia’s Nobel Prize laureate, Dr Peter Doherty;


“Apart from their obvious aesthetic value, birds control insects, distribute seeds and pollens, clean up the environment and move nutrients from the oceans to the land. They are our not so distant relatives and deserve our regard. And it is time to give them more consideration” 3


Have we shown sufficient consideration to the pigeon or more so to the Australian native bird fauna?



The pigeon fanciers from whom I gained so much knowledge and appreciation of the human spirit.


EMAI Virology lab, SVDL personnel & biosecurity personnel, especially Sally Spence and Therese Wright that spent a ‘few hours’ facilitating the efforts in NSW.


Drs Mark White & Rob Marshall for their alertness and cooperation.


Dr Colin Walker for useful information.


The moral support and help from Amanda Lee, SVO Pigs, during some of the more demanding days of the outbreaks in Sydney is greatly appreciated.




  1. Koopman R The control of Pigeon Paramyxovirus outbreaks in EU, R, MSD Animal Health, PPP, given May 2012 in Qld


  1. Alexander, GWC Wilson, JA Thain, SA Lister; Avian paramyxovirus type 1 infection of racing pigeons: 3, epizootiological considerations. Vet Rec 1984; 213 -216.


  1. Peter Doherty: why our fine-feathered friends deserve better -.

31 Jul 2012 – Accessed 13.12.12


  1. 4. Accessed 13.12.12
  2. Animal Health Surveillance Quarterly Report Vol 16 Issue 3.
  3. 6. com/ckfinder/userfiles/files/PMVinfo.pdf

Article Source:…

Pigeon Radio Australia wishes to thank VIMEO online internet video for respecting the recent breach of copyright

This is now what is seen when trying to access the said video

Pigeon Radio Australia, would like to thank the VIMEO ( online internet video posting service, for respecting the recent breach of copyright.

A video was being circulated with personal trolling attacks with edits of the last Pigeon Radio Australia program.

Pigeon Radio Australia, tried to converse with the offenders, but to no avail and then proceeded to use its copyright rights as the legal copyright owner of the material. Wehn the offenders were sent messages to remove the said contents, we were rudely sworn at and told to go away in indecent 4 letter language. We were also told by the offenders that our copyright ownership will not stand up and they refuse to remove the said video, which was in breach of copyright. 

Pigeon Radio Australia then consulted with its legal team, who suggested that the first step we take was to contact the online video website VIMEO with a breach of the copyright complaint. (refer to the photos on this post)

Pigeon Radio Australia, is extremely impressed and appreciative of VIMEO for taking down the breach of copyright video and respecting Pigeon Radio Australia’s copyright ownership of the material.

Nice to see internet video and audio online posting websites doing the right thing and respecting copyright ownerships. 

Thank you VIMEO

Ivan Fonti
Pigeon Radio Australia
WYN FM – 88.9FM
Melbourne Australia
Executive Producer

Pigeon Radio Monday,9th January,2017


Ivan Fonti
In Studio Guests Angelo and Tony Barbara
George Azar – PRF – Western Australia
Tony McPherson – GMPF
Michael Spadoni – President Melbourne Pigeon Society – Representative Victoria ANPA
Gary Beavis – Secretary Kyabram Homing Pigeon Club
TOGETHER WITH, Dr. Rob Marshall, B. V. Sc, M.A.V. C. Sc (Avian Health)



January 5, 2017


Jerry Gagne, owner of Foy’s Pigeon Supply – Canada


The title of this article is a bit misleading, yes thousands of birds have died, that is a fact, but as to WHY?, I do not know. I am writing this at the end of December, so hopefully by this article gets to you, the answer is in hand, but don’t bet on it. This mystery disease has been hitting pigeons in North America for a number of months, and is still going strong. The reports from the hundreds of pigeon fanciers, that I have received, have no general symptoms, one day they either look fine, or a little fluffed up, and the next day they are dead. There is a lot of rumors, speculation, guesses from fanciers and answers from vets and so on. I have been working with leading institutions for the last few months, and no institution has solved the problem, at least that I know of. Some of the suggestion as to what it is are all over the board. Wild birds somehow infecting the pigeons, it’s PMV, its paratyphoid, a brand new disease, a new strain of PMV, a new strain of Paratyphoid or a new strain of Adenovirus. Some have reported that it is only killing hens, it is only killing young birds, it happened when I came home from a show, could it be caused by a dirty loft, the droppings are very loose, the droppings are green the dropping are brown. Well I guess that this point, there is no commonality , the symptoms are all over the place.

What to do?, what to do? that is the question, and the answer is that I do not know. Pigeons that have never been shown are getting it, pigeons that have had no new birds are getting it, pigeons returning to a show are getting it, pigeon that were in a race or pigeons that have never been flown are getting it. I clean the loft every day, why did I get it? It This disease, in my humble opinion, is a virus, but It that could be wrong. I had it a couple of months ago but now it has run its course and everything is back to normal. As the owner of Foy’s [and former President of the National Pigeon Association]. I have just about every medication, and believe me I tried a bung, and so have others, but never worked. I have talked to many people and on at least three occasions, the pigeons were opened up and they were full of round worms! I worm my birds, what heck happened? Many fanciers have vaccinated their pigeons, but that did not stop it.

I can offer a few suggestions, but they are not cures, in my mind, it must run its course, like any virus. Heck a common cold is a virus, and after spending billions of dollars trying to find something that will cure it, they still have not been able to come up with a cure, the only this science can offer is different medications to treat the symptoms. The meds treat the head aches, stuff noses, fevers, coughs and chills can be addressed but the actual virus must run its course.

WHAT TO DO! Here is what I suggest. Always use the same drinkers in each section. All of my drinkers are numbered so that I do not accidentally mix them up. Keep your loft clean. Keep the pigeons in semi darkness, if possible and reduce stress such as showing racing until your birds are normal. Vaccinate all your birds with a PMV shot, this will drastically increases the immune system, and it may prevent some birds from getting this horrible disease. Clean your whole loft, including the aviary with common bleach, 1 cup to a gallon. Better yet, use Oxine which is much better. Don’t forget to clean the feeders and drinker. Clean all the perches with Oxine or bleach and also spray all the cracks and crevices, including the floor. There is a brand new product on the market that I know will help as a preventative, and I would use it every day or at least three times a week. The product, Dr. Pigeons Health Show Water, fights the viruses and is not an antibiotic so you can uses it as often as you like, but in all cases, change the water every day. Healthy Show Water. If you are going to put your birds in a show or a race, use it 2-3 days before you basket them to take them to the event, during the show and after the show or race. I may be missed with vitamins and probiotics, in fact, I suggest you do combine it with something lick UltraPro or another product that combines vitamins and probiotics. You may also want to include electrolytes that will make the droppings more normal.

As I wrote this article, I got a call from a friend and is also an avian vet. We had a long conversation about the problem and he wanted me to add a few suggestion. Worm all of your pigeons with a product that treats roundworms, clean the loft the next day after treating. The drugs are not meant to kill roundworms, but to paralyze them so that they release in the pigeons. They are then passed out in the birds droppings. If you do not clean the floor after the medication, your birds may pick them up again.

Jerry Gagne – Foy’s Pigeon Supply 


Australian National Racing Pigeon Board – Press Release – 4.00pm – 4 January – 6 January 3.00pm 2017




About Us

Press Release – 4.00pm – 4 January 2017
To: The Management Committees of All Australian Racing Pigeon Federations, Combine
Entities, One-Loft Races and Fancy Pigeon Associations.
Re: Update: Reo-virus outbreak 13 December 2016, Victoria
The purpose of this communication is to provide information to Racing Pigeon Federations so
that they can inform their members of:
· Details of the virus: Testing, diagnosis and next steps
· Biosecurity measures each member needs to undertake
· The role of the Australian National Racing Pigeon Board (ANRPB) and funding for
trials and vaccine
1. Details of the virus: Testing, diagnosis and next steps
In May 2016 a virus outbreak occurred in WA which was thought to be Adino-virus.
Unfortunately, many birds died. Affected surviving birds were now carriers, by agreement for
Bio-security purposes, all movement / shipments to the Eastern States from WA were banned
until 31 December 2016.
In early December 2016 birds were unfortunately shipped from WA to Victoria. Almost
immediately an outbreak occurred. What was determined very quickly was that these newly
affected birds did not have: Adino-virus, PMV1, Herpes, but had another virus. Testing from
16 December through to 31 December has now revealed the virus is indeed a strain of Reovirus.
Testing has confirmed that the Victorian virus and the WA virus are the same and are a
form of Reo-virus; not Adino-virus as previously reported.
For a detailed account of the timeline and information pertaining to this virus outbreak please
refer to Dr. Colin Walker’s website, pigeon virus update page.
Or direct link:
Key points:
· Immediate: Diagnostic work continues – Agri-bio, AAHL
· Immediate: We must control spread of the virus – strict bio-security measures – no
inter-loft movement of bird or fanciers
· Medium: Develop tentative immune protocol to offer fanciers some means of
protecting birds
· Longer: trial to develop “best” and proven method of protecting birds
2. Biosecurity measures each member needs to undertake
On Friday 16 December the ANRPB posted on its website the following Biosecurity measures.
These measures remain in place and should be adhered to until further notice by all pigeon
flyers, no matter where you live.
· Do not introduce new pigeons into your yard
· Do not allow your pigeons to mix with other pigeons
· Avoid visiting other pigeon lofts
It is also an appropriate time to reinforce the protocols for all flyers and pigeon keepers to
vaccinate for PMV1. This is essential. Recently we have had cases around the country of PMV1
outbreaks, which is totally unnecessary.
3. The role of the Australian National Racing Pigeon Board (ANRPB) and funding for trials
and vaccine
The ANRPB is still in its infancy. Its role is very much at a macro-level dealing with priorities
such as Animal Health Australia – AHA (Australian Government) pertaining to the
development of a welfare based National Code of Practice; this is well underway. The ANRPB
at this time has no mandate to dictate to Federations, Clubs or indeed members within the
pigeon fraternity about constitutional or racing matters. This is for the Federations and Club
entities. The ANRPB in the short-medium term will provide guidance and best practice
recommendations, all of which will be pigeon welfare centric. This was all discussed at the
ANRPB National Convention in Canberra 19 November 2016. See for details
of presentations which can be downloaded.
What will the ANRPB do as regards Reo-virus? The ANRPB will support Dr. Colin Walker and
others involved in the testing, diagnosis, trials and quest for a suitable vaccine. This includes
being a point of contact to assist with funds on behalf of the Australian Pigeon fraternity to
enable testing and trails to be undertaken so we can hopefully obtain a vaccine.
Separately we will be writing to all Federations requesting a financial contribution from the
Federations equivalent to a notional amount of $20 per member as a first tranche of fund
raising for the Reo-virus work. Further details will follow regarding this. Please keep a close
eye on:
Please stay in touch with your state based ANRPB board member:
VIC Graham Wark
NSW / ACT Mark Jeffrey
QLD Len Vanderlinde
SA / NT Greg Kakoschke
TAS Peter Wallace
WA Kevin Wilson
They can be contacted by email:
I would encourage all pigeon fanciers to register their personal details on our website, in the
contact section, so we can email you directly with updates and latest information.
In summary:
This is a difficult time for the Australian Racing Pigeon and Fancy Pigeon fraternity. Five-years
ago when the PMV1 outbreak occurred we were in a similar time of adversity regarding our
beloved pigeons. We worked through this. We dealt with the facts. We supported the science.
We arrived at a solution… the PMV1 vaccine and the protocols around this has ensured we
have been able to manage this disease and race freely and competitively. Our desire is to
create the same outcome for this new Reo-virus. We are using the same scientific team and
bodies for Reo-virus as we did with PMV1. Diagnostic testing is happening. Dr Walker is in
touch with local and overseas suppliers of vaccines. Local trials will need to happen. Funding
for this will be required, all as was done for PMV1.
Please be patient. Please be supportive. Please follow the Bio-security protocols detailed
herein. We need a unified approach from the pigeon fraternity at this time. Faceless people
on forum’s and other mediums deriding the work being done does not add any value; please
refrain if you are one of these people.
This is perfect time for all pigeon fanciers in Australia to come together, support each other
and to be positive about the work being done to determine a solution for this current Reovirus
outbreak across many parts of Australia.
If you wish to take an active role in the ANRPB please email your local Board member. If you
want to help other flyers to vaccinate for PMV1 work in your clubs and Fed’s. Many of our
older members may need some assistance in this regard. Please contact your Fed’s to see how
you can help.
All the very best for 2017.
Yours sincerely
For and on behalf of the Australian National Racing Pigeon Board
Stephen Eggleton
Chair – ANRPB


Press Release – 3.00pm – 6 January 2017
To: The Management Committees of All Australian Racing Pigeon Federations, Combine
Entities, One-Loft Races and Fancy Pigeon Associations.
Re: Update 2: Highly infectious, emerging pigeon disease – Reo-virus outbreak in Australia.
Further to the ANRPB press release of 4 January 2017, the following update applies:
1. Further diagnostic testing is in progress. Results are expected by mid-January. As
advised by NSW DPI 5 January 2017 “It’s possible that some poultry vaccines will be
of assistance in the management of this disease. In the meantime, biosecurity
measures are critical to prevent the spread of this disease until a long-term solution
can be determined”. Please remain positive and refer to daily updates on-line:
2. The following Biosecurity measures remain in place and must be adhered to until
further notice by all pigeon flyers, no matter where you live.
a. Do not introduce new pigeons into your yard
b. Do not allow your pigeons to mix with other pigeons
c. Avoid visiting other pigeon lofts
3. On 4 January an article was posted on-line (which has since been taken down)
which suggested deliberate loft infection with the Reo-virus. The Australian
National Racing Pigeon Board does NOT support nor condone this suggestion. This
practice if introduced would spread the Reo-virus far and wide and may result in
the deaths of many thousands of racing and fancy pigeons in this country. From a
pigeon welfare perspective this suggestion is totally unacceptable and indeed
contrary to the very code of practice for the welfare of our pigeons we are
currently developing within the ANRPB; in response the Federal Government AHA
overhaul of animal welfare standards in this country. The ANRPB will be seeking
the strongest disciplinary measures possible by Federation entities to ensure pigeon
membership do not actively put their flocks or other member’s flocks at risk. Please
abide by the above Bio-security measures.
Yours sincerely
For and on behalf of the Australian National Racing Pigeon Board
Stephen Eggleton
Chair – ANRPB

Dr. Rob Marshall, B. V. Sc, M.A.V. C. Sc (Avian Health) Has invited you to ask question and concerns

After yesterday’s announcement by Dr Rob Marshall he has invited question or concerns to be posted here for him to answer

he is aware that there a differing views and opinions and has said he is more than happy to discuss his views or any answer or any concerns


so if you you have a question post it here or send it to me to pass on, or post your questions under this heading on Facebook for him to answer

From: Dr Rob Marshall [] Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2017 4:32 PM
To: ‘Ivica Fonti’
Subject: Answers

“Dr Marshall is withdrawing from further conversation or involvement with the current disease outbreak in Victoria and recommends to follow the directions of the national body which follows Dr Colin Walker’s recommendations. The questions below are the last he will be answering concerning the outbreak. Dr Marshall’s is keen to answer any questions that his own clients may have concerning the disease. His recommendations regarding treatment plans and prevention plans will be on a client only basis and not for general publication.”


Question 1
Is Rio virus contagious to other birds such as canaries and finches?

The virus itself has not yet been identified but the disease outbreak at the moment does not appear to infect birds other than pigeons. We know this from the experience of the WA outbreak. Relevant authorities in WA should be consulted for their opinion.

Question 2
Please clarify this question relates to reovirus not PMV as was written in the question?
Part 1: If your loft contracts Reovirus how should you clean your loft during and after the event?

We must wait now wait until the virus is identified. Once identified, these questions can be exactly answered. Dr Walker will be able to answer these questions for you.

Refer to answer to question 10 for disinfecting instructions.

Part 2: Should infected Lofts be suspended from racing and how long after the last bird has died should this suspension last?

We must wait now wait until the virus is identified. Once identified, these questions can be exactly answered. Dr Walker will be able to answer these questions for you.

Part 3: Reovirus can live in the loft for an extended time, does it also live in the ground outside, on the outside of the lofts etc?

We must wait now wait until the virus is identified. Once identified, these questions can be exactly answered. Dr Walker will be able to answer these questions for you.

Question 3
How can a veterinarian, especially one involved in animal sport at a time when animal liberation movements are at their highest, be advocating a course of action that will cruelly kill hundreds of thousands of pigeons purely to allow a seasons racing?

The situation in Melbourne is such that the disease can be considered to be an epidemic because over 50 lofts have become infected. Therefore, the disease is likely to spread throughout Melbourne over the next months irrespective of the strictest bio-security measures. Alternative approaches to managing this disease must be considered because there is no guarantee of a vaccine for at least one year. Birds will inevitably become exposed and die from this disease in the same way irrespective when and how they are exposed to the disease. The aim is to be proactive, limit these losses and to prevent the disease from lingering for possibly years whilst a vaccine is being developed.

What is needed at the moment is conversation with and between fanciers that keep racing pigeons and those that keep fancy pigeons to ascertain the concerns of each group so that a plan that satisfies both groups can be organised. At the moment the conversation is driven by fear and anger due to the uncertainty of which approach should be followed. There is no simple answer to this disease but a common cause must be found and that is the reason to encourage sensible dialogue and the consideration of all options for managing this disease in the best interest of all pigeon owners and the welfare of their pigeons. At the moment, no direction has been given. A firm direction will be possible after consultation with all parties involved. I would support the lock down of all infected lofts and to allow those uninfected lofts to let their birds out for controlled exercise.

I would like to step away from the political discussions and hatred but offer my support if requested.

Question 4
Are you cashing in on this virus selling your products and are you suggesting your radical approach to sell more of your products?

The current situation is complex because there is no likelihood of vaccination for 1 year. This means the disease will infect most lofts by the time the vaccination is available. The focus should be directed at understanding the nature of the disease and limiting the inevitable losses. This requires a treatment plan be organised beforehand. Our experience in the WA outbreak has allowed us to refine a treatment plan that will limit the losses to 5-10% in racing pigeons. Racing pigeons are inherently strong so that the losses can be minimal. Fancy pigeons are inherently weak so that it is expected the losses will be great. The dilemma is to put in place a plan to reduce losses in both kinds of birds. The treatment plan I proposed is similar to the other one recommended.

The racing pigeon fraternity must communicate with the fancy pigeon people to determine the best approach for both strong and weak pigeons. This requires a compromise from both parties. The principal requirement for race pigeons is that they are trained to home as young birds and are allowed to fly around the loft to develop health and fitness. This means a clear directive needs to be given to the racing pigeon fraternity by the fancy pigeon people that this is appropriate. Only healthy, non infected racing pigeons should be allowed to loft fly at the moment. Those infected lofts need to keep their birds secure inside the loft and practice bio-security measures.

Question 5
Does the virus kill the birds with the weakest constitution in other words is it eliminating the ones that have little resistance to ANY ailment?

True. This is why it is such a complicated problem because the fancy birds may suffer heavier losses than race pigeons. The fact is that we do not know that this is the case. Therefore, fancy pigeon lofts that become infected should take very careful diary notes and inform exactly of their losses when appropriate early treatment is given. We understand that heavy losses are experienced when treatment is not given at the first sign of the disease. From this information, we can then understand the full impact on those who keep fancy pigeons.

Question 6
Is looking at the whole fancy a far better and more equitable option rather than catering to only one part of the pigeon fancy?

I agree completely. We must know what the priorities of each fancy are. To achieve this we must engage in calm conversation about the concerns of both fancy and racing pigeon owners. The main thing is, that to arrive at a common agreement of how to best manage this problem at the moment relies on gaining more information about the number of deaths and types of birds that are most affected by this disease, be they fancy or racing pigeons. From this information we can refine a treatment plan to limit losses. This means a clear directive needs to be given to the racing pigeon fraternity by the fancy pigeon people that this is appropriate. Only healthy, non infected racing pigeons should be allowed to loft fly at the moment. Those infected lofts need to keep their birds secure inside the loft and practice bio-security measures.

Question 7
How can the virus be contained if THOUSANDS of infected race birds will be lost throughout Victoria, that then cross infect wild birds that become likely carriers, who then in turn infect the rest of the domestic pigeon fancy in Victoria and Australia?

It is exactly true what you say. This disease is not contained in Melbourne because 50 lofts are currently infected. This means that the disease will spread through Melbourne. In the meantime, measures to contain the disease to Melbourne are required. This means each uninfected state should legislate against movement of pigeons between their borders. The focus of attention is on limiting inevitable losses. See answer to question 6.

Question 8
If the chook Reo virus only offers partial immunity can the dosage and frequency be increased to off sufficient immunity?

Currently Dr Walker is investigating this possibility. Vaccine development is a specialist and highly regulated field. The development of a vaccine will take at least 1 year.

Question 9
If you get the virus, what supportive additives to you suggest to maximize recovery, especially if the Liver is the main organ affected. Is there supplements readily available that benefits the Livers health?

Refer to current Immune Stimulating Plan available from myself or Dr Walker. There are liver cleansing products available.

Question 10
If you get the virus what is the best method and products to disinfecting the loft?
Is there any value in disinfecting the loft if the recovered birds are still contagious and shed the virus for many months after recovering?

Refer to treatment plan plans available from myself or Dr Walker. Yes, the continuing weekly disinfection after recovery will lessen the chance of infected lofts being problematic to healthy lofts. Any product registered as a virucide disinfectant. These are available from myself, Dr Walker or produce stores.

Question 11

I have been researching the effects that vitamin C have on disease toxins and viruses. Just wondering if anyone else has looked into this? I was wondering if it would be beneficial to give a course of vitamin C after completing pox and PMV vaccinations. I know not to give them vitamin C immediately after vaccination but not sure on how long to wait?

Pigeons produce their own vitamin C in the liver therefore with a liver problem, production is impaired. This means vitamin C therapy may be of value.

Carlingford Animal Hospital
772 Pennant Hills Road
Carlingford, NSW 2118

Phone: 02 9871 6036
ABN: 16 003 477 156

Pigeon Radio Monday,2nd January,2017



Dr. Rob Marshall, B. V. Sc, M.A.V. C. Sc (Avian Health)
With Panelists.
Tony Barbara
Angelo Barbara
Joe Angelino
George Azar – PRF – Western Australia
Rod Simmons – VRPU – Winners1
Chris Schutz – Fancy and show pigeons and importations

Clef two-factor authentication