Avian Pox can produce wart-like lesions, that can be the size of a golf ball, appear on the unfeathered part of the bird, such as the beak, eyelids, nostrils and legs and feet or between feather tracts anywhere on the body. (Submitted)

Avian pox can leave eagles suffering in silence

Column: There is no evidence that the strain affects humans

It isn’t difficult to diagnosis Avian pox (AP) in an eagle when it is presented to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. These wart-like lesions, that can be the size of a golf ball, appear on the unfeathered part of the bird, such as the beak, eyelids, nostrils and legs and feet or between feather tracts anywhere on the body.

It is apparent this eagle has suffered from this trauma for some time as it has developed into the last stages of hemorrhage and tissue death permitting bacteria and fungi to develop. The lesions also severely affect its ability to feed thus was starving and exhausted.

It has been determined there is no cure for this disease but care such as fluid therapy, balanced nutrition, decreased stress levels and medicinal treatment can help in the bird’s recovery.

The lesions can cause permanent damage including blindness, beak malformation and loss of toes and feet. The unpleasant outward appearance of the pox also affects mucous membranes, respiration, their gastrointestinal tract and can result in death. Avian pox seems to occur more in juvenile eagles than adults. It also seems that the birds’ susceptibility to the virus and the severity of the lesions are tied to its immune and nutritional state – so severely affected birds are often compromised in some other way and the virus really takes hold.

This disease is a member of the poxvirus family and is species specific. It is believed to be transferred from one bird to the next from an insect bite, direct contact, contaminated objects or by aerosol particles, trauma or damage to the epithelium (skin) when birds are fighting.

There is no evidence that the strain affects humans.

Dr. McAdie DVM, NIWRA’s veterinarian says, “The severity of the lesions can be small and self-limiting if the bird is otherwise healthy.

I think that these severely affected birds are presented in such a debilitated state that you can’t reverse the extreme damage from the virus. Our fundamental goal is to restore wildlife to full health so they can be returned to the wild and stand a good chance of survival or to end suffering. These birds are starving (often just feathers and bones) and they have been suffering in silence for quite a while. To not euthanize is to needlessly prolong their suffering. It always makes me sad to euthanize these eagles, but I know it is the right thing to do.”

Sadly, that was the result for this eagle.

Wild ’n Free is written by Sylvia Campbell and she can be reached at wildlife@niwra.org

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Qualicum school district board reiterates support for 8-lane track at Ballenas Secondary

Officials pen another letter to Regional District of Nanaimo to clarify position

Public health forum in Parksville Jan. 30

Island Health will provide an update for the region

Cinema society concerned about bus garage property sale in Qualicum Beach

Group planned on commissioning a feasibility study for multi-use cinema

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Off-duty Nanaimo Mountie takes down would-be ice cream thief

Suspect attempted to steal Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen location on Sunday

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

Nanaimo man hit with pole in dispute over off-leash dog

RCMP say no charges recommended at this time

Was there a tornado on Vancouver Island Monday?

Suspected phone app glitch gives eerie warning

Work has started on Malahat Skywalk, expected completion in 2021

$15-million project expected to open in spring, 2021

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Most Read