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Keep domestic birds away from wild birds, warns State vet amid reported deaths

25 June 2021 8:44 AM
Tags:
pigeon deaths
wild birds
pigeon and doves
Dr Lesley van Helden
State veterinarian
state vet

Breakfast host Refilwe Moloto chats to Western Cape veterinary specialist Dr. Lesley van Helden about reports of dying pigeons and doves.
  • State veterinarian Dr. Lesley van Helden says wild birds are more easily infected with diseases and must be kept away from domestic birds
  • There have been reports of some doves and pigeons dying in a number of Cape Town suburbs due to pigeon paramyxovirus (PPMV)
  • Dr. van Helden says there are a number of diseases that affect wild birds

Image: © Alex Polo/123rf.com

Have you noticed an increase in the number of dead doves and pigeons in your neighbourhood?

There have been reports that some doves and pigeons have recently died of pigeon paramyxovirus (PPMV), a disease that is spread through contact between birds.

Dr. Lesley van Helden, the State Veterinarian for Epidemiology at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, says PPMV has been around in South Africa since the 1980s and reemerges in wild birds from time to time.

She says it's difficult to stop the spread of PPMV among wild birds but adds that it can be avoided in domestic birds.

"Just preventing contact between domestic birds and wild birds will do a lot to protect their health and your health too", she tells CapeTalk.

Other diseases that can cause bird deaths include Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease, she explains.

Dr. van Helden has urged Cape Town residents to report any inexplicable deaths of domestic birds to their local State veterinary office which can be found here.

If residents find a wild dead bird in their garden, they must dispose of it safely using plastic or gloves and wash their hands thoroughly afterward.

If a large number of wild birds have died in a public place, van Helden says municipal officials must be contacted to assist with the disposal.

The more birds you have in a small space, the higher the chances of them all getting infected if one of them is.

Dr. Lesley van Helden, State Veterinarian for Epidemiology - Western Cape Department of Agriculture

We often get calls from the public who see wild birds dying in their neighbourhoods... our veterinary services go out and collect samples to determine the cause of the problem.

Dr. Lesley van Helden, State Veterinarian for Epidemiology - Western Cape Department of Agriculture

It can be a lot of things... We do have avian flu going around at the moment and it's quite a dangerous disease for birds.

Dr. Lesley van Helden, State Veterinarian for Epidemiology - Western Cape Department of Agriculture

It can also be Newcastle disease or pigeon paramyxovirus (PPMV) which are very close relatives of each other.

Dr. Lesley van Helden, State Veterinarian for Epidemiology - Western Cape Department of Agriculture

PPMV mostly affects doves and pigeons. You'll usually just find quite a few of them dead but otherwise, you could see maybe they look a little bit depressed, sometimes you'll see they are uncoordinated and struggling to fly.

Dr. Lesley van Helden, State Veterinarian for Epidemiology - Western Cape Department of Agriculture



25 June 2021 8:44 AM
Tags:
pigeon deaths
wild birds
pigeon and doves
Dr Lesley van Helden
State veterinarian
state vet

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