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One article that pertains to young birds may be of interest to pigeon
POX VACCINATION CONTROVERSY
By David E. Marx, DVM
There continues to be controversy concerning pox vaccination.
Some fanciers feel that their birds typically pick up pox from
vaccinated birds in their club, etc. Some wish to ban
vaccination so that the vaccinated birds do not infect
unvaccinated ones. The vaccine virus can cause infection that
will spread to other young birds. The longer the scabs last, the
longer the virus is available for spread. The virus can live in
scab material for some months.
It seems to me that this deprives a fancier of his right to
keep his birds disease free. Granted, the vaccinated birds will
be contagious for a while. A better choice, in my opinion, is
requiring that any vaccination should be done at least two
months before the race season; by then they should not still be
a threat of contagion. I think that if there is a chance that
the birds could contract pox during the race season, a fancier
should have the prerogative to protect his birds by
Now, if that area NEVER has natural pox, and sees pox only
when someone vaccinates, this is a different story. I wasn't
sure that there are areas like that, but have been told that
there were. If the birds cannot contract pox naturally then
there is no need to vaccinate. It seems, that with birds being
shipped here and there, that if a newly acquired young bird,
from outside the area, would break with pox, then the they would
be in a world of hurt with unvaccinated flocks of youngsters. I
also think that everyone should vaccinate in self defense, to be
To me the best answer is to require that no one vaccinates
for pox within 2 (or even longer) months before YB race season.
Also, it might be good idea to exclude younger young birds,
which missed the vaccination, from a vaccinated loft, from being
shipped. These birds could keep the virus, of vaccine origin,
propagating, and could be a source of infection.
The more you think about it, the more complicated it gets.
I always vaccinated in July for our races which start in
September. By then, I believe that there was no trace of virus
in my birds; and that they could be commingled with no threat to
anyone's unvaccinated birds. If anyone's race birds start
popping up with pox during the season, from spending night out
and roosting with feral pigeons, then I didn't need to worry
about mine contracting it. If there is any work to show that
vaccinated birds can carry live virus for more than two months
post-vaccination, I do not know about it.
David E. Marx DVM