Invasive Species Compendium

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avipox

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Datasheet

avipox

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 03 January 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Animal Disease
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • avipox
  • Overview
  • The avian poxviruses (genus Avipoxvirus) constitute a group of viruses in the subfamily Chordopoxvirinae, family Poxviridae (ICTV, 2009). Depending on the authority, th...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Thin section electron microscopy showing a mature pox virus particle, with a centrally located biconcave core, two lateral bodies and the outer coat.
TitleMature pox virus particle
CaptionThin section electron microscopy showing a mature pox virus particle, with a centrally located biconcave core, two lateral bodies and the outer coat.
CopyrightNatàlia Majó Masferror
Thin section electron microscopy showing a mature pox virus particle, with a centrally located biconcave core, two lateral bodies and the outer coat.
Mature pox virus particleThin section electron microscopy showing a mature pox virus particle, with a centrally located biconcave core, two lateral bodies and the outer coat. Natàlia Majó Masferror
Histopathology of a pox lesion, showing epithelial hypertrophy and inclusion bodies.
TitleHistopathology
CaptionHistopathology of a pox lesion, showing epithelial hypertrophy and inclusion bodies.
CopyrightU.S. Geological Survey/Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, Hawaii
Histopathology of a pox lesion, showing epithelial hypertrophy and inclusion bodies.
HistopathologyHistopathology of a pox lesion, showing epithelial hypertrophy and inclusion bodies.U.S. Geological Survey/Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, Hawaii
Pox virus infected CAM. Note diffuse thickening of the membrane.
TitlePox virus infected CAM
CaptionPox virus infected CAM. Note diffuse thickening of the membrane.
CopyrightLaboratorios Hipra, S.A.
Pox virus infected CAM. Note diffuse thickening of the membrane.
Pox virus infected CAMPox virus infected CAM. Note diffuse thickening of the membrane.Laboratorios Hipra, S.A.
Cutaneous form of pox virus infection. Variously sized papules or nodules are observed in the comb of this animal.
TitleCutaneous pox virus symptoms.
CaptionCutaneous form of pox virus infection. Variously sized papules or nodules are observed in the comb of this animal.
CopyrightNatàlia Majó Masferror
Cutaneous form of pox virus infection. Variously sized papules or nodules are observed in the comb of this animal.
Cutaneous pox virus symptoms.Cutaneous form of pox virus infection. Variously sized papules or nodules are observed in the comb of this animal. Natàlia Majó Masferror
Histologic section of poxvirus-infected CAM. Epithelial hyperplasia and large, eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies (Bollinger bodies) within epithelial cells are observed.
TitleHistology
CaptionHistologic section of poxvirus-infected CAM. Epithelial hyperplasia and large, eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies (Bollinger bodies) within epithelial cells are observed.
CopyrightNatàlia Majó Masferror
Histologic section of poxvirus-infected CAM. Epithelial hyperplasia and large, eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies (Bollinger bodies) within epithelial cells are observed.
HistologyHistologic section of poxvirus-infected CAM. Epithelial hyperplasia and large, eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies (Bollinger bodies) within epithelial cells are observed.Natàlia Majó Masferror
Diphteric form of pox virus infection. Yellowish pseudomembranes are observed in the lumen of the trachea.|Diphteric form of pox virus infection. Yellowish pseudomembranes are observed in the lumen of the trachea. Yellowish pseudomembranes are observed in the lumen of the trachea.
TitleDiptheric form symptoms
CaptionDiphteric form of pox virus infection. Yellowish pseudomembranes are observed in the lumen of the trachea.|Diphteric form of pox virus infection. Yellowish pseudomembranes are observed in the lumen of the trachea. Yellowish pseudomembranes are observed in the lumen of the trachea.
CopyrightLaboratorios Hipra, S.A.
Diphteric form of pox virus infection. Yellowish pseudomembranes are observed in the lumen of the trachea.|Diphteric form of pox virus infection. Yellowish pseudomembranes are observed in the lumen of the trachea. Yellowish pseudomembranes are observed in the lumen of the trachea.
Diptheric form symptomsDiphteric form of pox virus infection. Yellowish pseudomembranes are observed in the lumen of the trachea.|Diphteric form of pox virus infection. Yellowish pseudomembranes are observed in the lumen of the trachea. Yellowish pseudomembranes are observed in the lumen of the trachea.Laboratorios Hipra, S.A.
Nodule in a feathered area of a pigeon caused by pox virus infection.
TitleSymptoms
CaptionNodule in a feathered area of a pigeon caused by pox virus infection.
CopyrightNatàlia Majó Masferror
Nodule in a feathered area of a pigeon caused by pox virus infection.
SymptomsNodule in a feathered area of a pigeon caused by pox virus infection.Natàlia Majó Masferror
Histologic section of poxvirus-infected skin. Epithelial hyperplasia and large, eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies (Bollinger bodies) within epithelial cells are observed.
TitleHistology
CaptionHistologic section of poxvirus-infected skin. Epithelial hyperplasia and large, eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies (Bollinger bodies) within epithelial cells are observed.
CopyrightNatàlia Majó Masferror
Histologic section of poxvirus-infected skin. Epithelial hyperplasia and large, eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies (Bollinger bodies) within epithelial cells are observed.
HistologyHistologic section of poxvirus-infected skin. Epithelial hyperplasia and large, eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies (Bollinger bodies) within epithelial cells are observed.Natàlia Majó Masferror
Characteristic pox lesions on the feet of an immature apapane, Hawaii Island.
TitleSymptoms
CaptionCharacteristic pox lesions on the feet of an immature apapane, Hawaii Island.
CopyrightU.S. Geological Survey/Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, Hawaii
Characteristic pox lesions on the feet of an immature apapane, Hawaii Island.
SymptomsCharacteristic pox lesions on the feet of an immature apapane, Hawaii Island.U.S. Geological Survey/Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, Hawaii
Cutaneous pox lesions on the bill and eyelid of nestling Laysan Albatross, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
TitleSymptoms
CaptionCutaneous pox lesions on the bill and eyelid of nestling Laysan Albatross, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
CopyrightU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Cutaneous pox lesions on the bill and eyelid of nestling Laysan Albatross, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
SymptomsCutaneous pox lesions on the bill and eyelid of nestling Laysan Albatross, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • avipox

Other Scientific Names

  • Poxvirus avium

International Common Names

  • English: avian pox; canarypox; fowlpox; juncopox; pigeonpox; psittacinepox; quailpox; sparrowpox; starlingpox; turkeypox
  • Spanish: viruela aviar
  • French: variole aviaire

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Gefluegelpocken
  • Portugal: bouba
  • UK: avian diphtheria; bird pox; contagious epithelioma; poxvirus infection

Overview

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The avian poxviruses (genus Avipoxvirus) constitute a group of viruses in the subfamily Chordopoxvirinae, family Poxviridae (ICTV, 2009). Depending on the authority, there are as many as 13 recognized, more or less host specific, species. The archetype, and best studied species, is fowlpox virus (Tripathy, 1993). Avian pox was one of the earliest described diseases of birds due to its distinctive gross lesions and histopathology. In 1873, Bollinger described the pathology of avian pox and the characteristic inclusion bodies that bear his name. Decades later, Woodruff and Goodpasture cultured fowlpox virus on embryonic, chorioallantoic membrane and conclusively demonstrated that it was the causative agent of fowlpox disease (van Riper and Forrester, 2007).

Avian pox presents as two common forms: 1) dry or cutaneous pox affecting the exposed skin of the head and feet and 2) wet or diphtheritic pox affecting the mucous membranes of the mouth, esophagus and upper respiratory tract. A systemic or septicemic form may also occur in canaries and some wild passerines (van Riper and Forrester, 2007). 

Avian poxviruses cause economically significant disease in chickens (fowlpox), domestic turkeys (turkeypox), farmed game birds (quailpox) and caged canaries (canarypox). Fowlpox causes significant economic loss worldwide through mortality (50-60%), decreased egg production or retarded growth in broilers, layers and breeding stock.  Canarypox, perhaps the most lethal form of avian pox, can result in high losses over a short period in large commercial aviaries (Cumnningham, 1978; Tripathy and Reed, 2003).

Hosts/Species Affected

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It is thought that most birds are susceptible to some species or strains of Avipoxvirus.  Avian pox has been reported in at least 280 species from at least 70 families (Bolte et al., 1999; van Riper and Forrester, 2007).  Host specificity can be complicated with some species/strains specific for a single host species (e.g. Yellow-shafted flicker Colaptes auratus) while other strains (e.g. canarypox) might be infective for a number of different species across multiple families (Kirmse, 1969).  There are some bird orders – Tinamiformes (Tinamous),  Gaviiformes (Loons), Caprimulgiformes (Nightjars) and Coraciiformes (Kingfishers) – from which Avipoxvirus has never been reported and other orders – Anseriformes (Ducks & Geese), Falconiformes (Falcons & Hawks), Columbiformes (Pigeons & Doves) and Psittaciformes (Parrots) – from which Avipoxvirus has only recently been reported in wild birds (van Riper and Forrester, 2007).  Avian species occurring in warm, moist habitats where arthropod vectors are abundant are most likely to be infected with Avipoxvirus.  Where other environmental conditions are similar, domestic and captive species held at high densities are more likely to be infected with Avipoxvirus.

Distribution

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Avian poxviruses occur worldwide except in the Arctic and some remote island locations (van Riper and Forrester, 2007; Shearn-Bochsler et al., 2008).  There are fewer published reports from Africa and South America but this probably reflects limited research activity and not a natural distribution.  In North America it appears to be more prevalent in the warmer and moister regions of the United States (van Riper and Forrester, 2007).  Where it has been reported on remote oceanic islands, like the Hawaiian Islands, Galapagos Islands and Canary Islands, avian poxvirus behaves as an invasive species, spreading rapidly among susceptible species and causing higher mortality.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentWinteroll et al., 1979
AzerbaijanPresent1990OIE Handistatus, 2005
BahrainPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
BhutanPresent1996OIE Handistatus, 2005
ChinaPresentHu, 1982
-GansuPresentZhang et al., 1996
-Hong KongPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
-ShaanxiPresentWang et al., 1996
-ShanxiPresentWang et al., 1996
Georgia (Republic of)Present1983OIE Handistatus, 2005
IndiaPresentMathur et al., 1972; Pandey and Mallick, 1974
-Andhra PradeshPresentRao, 1965
IndonesiaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
IranPresent2000OIE Handistatus, 2005
IraqPresentAl-Falluji et al., 1979; Al-Ani, 1986
IsraelPresentPerelman et al., 1988In captive birds
JapanPresentKawashima, 1962; Sato et al., 1962; Horiuchi et al., 1965; Iwata et al., 1986; Tsai et al., 1997
JordanPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Korea, Republic ofPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
KuwaitPresent1996OIE Handistatus, 2005
LebanonPresent2000OIE Handistatus, 2005
MalaysiaPresentIderis and Ibrahim, 1986; Karpinski and Clubb, 1986; Reed and Schrader, 1989
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
-SabahPresent1997OIE Handistatus, 2005
-SarawakPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MyanmarPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
NepalPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
PhilippinesPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Saudi ArabiaPresentCooper, 1969; Greenwood and Blakemore, 1973In captive birds.
SingaporePresent1989OIE Handistatus, 2005
Sri LankaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
TaiwanPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
ThailandPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
United Arab EmiratesPresentKiel, 1985; Samour and Cooper, 1993; Samour et al., 1996
UzbekistanPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
VietnamPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005

Africa

AlgeriaPresent1997OIE Handistatus, 2005
AngolaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
BeninPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
BotswanaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
BurundiPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
CameroonPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Cape VerdePresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Côte d'IvoirePresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
DjiboutiPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
EgyptPresent1996OIE Handistatus, 2005
EritreaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
EthiopiaPresent2002OIE Handistatus, 2005
GhanaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
KenyaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
LibyaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MadagascarPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MalawiPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MoroccoPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MozambiquePresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
NamibiaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
NigeriaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Sao Tome and PrincipePresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
South AfricaPresentAllwright et al., 1994; Stannard et al., 1998
Spain
-Canary IslandsLocalisedIntroduced Invasive Medina et al., 2004; Smits et al., 2005; Illera et al., 2008
SudanPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
TanzaniaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
TogoPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
TunisiaPresent2003Loir and Ducloux, 1894; OIE Handistatus, 2005
UgandaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
ZambiaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005

North America

BermudaLocalisedSince 1958Wingate et al., 1980
CanadaPresentSyverton and McTaggerty, 1944; Kuntze et al., 1968; Moffat, 1972; Cox, 1980; Mikaelian et al., 1996
-OntarioWidespread Not invasive Karstad, 1965; Kirmse, 1966; Kirmse, 1967
-QuebecPresentMikaelian et al., 1997
MexicoPresentGALLAGHER, 1916; Graham, 1978; Olmos et al., 1986
USAPresentBaldwin, 1922; Emmel, 1930; BUMP et al., 1947; Locke et al., 1960; Goodpasture and Anderson, 1962; Minsky and Petrak, 1982
-AlaskaPresentMorton and Dieterich, 1979
-ArizonaPresentBlakenship et al., 1966
-CaliforniaPresentPower and Human, 1976; Hill and Bogue, 1977; Emanuelson et al., 1978; Harris et al., 1978; McDonald et al., 1981; Wheeldon et al., 1985
-FloridaPresentSimpson et al., 1975; Hitchner and Clubb, 1980; Jacobson et al., 1980; Akey et al., 1981; Deem et al., 1997
-GeorgiaPresentMusselman, 1928; STODDARD, 1931; Wheeldon et al., 1985
-HawaiiWidespread Invasive Henshaw, 1902; Locke et al., 1965; Warner, 1968; Jenkins et al., 1989; Sileo et al., 1990; Tripathy et al., 2000; van Riper et al., 2002; Atkinson et al., 2005; Jarvi et al., 2008
-IdahoLocalisedDocherty and Long, 1986Boise, feeding station
-IllinoisPresentBRANDLY and DUNLAP, 1938; Labisky and Mann, 1961; Sharma et al., 1968
-IndianaPresentBoosinger et al., 1982
-KentuckyPresentPoonacha and Wilson, 1981In captive birds
-MarylandPresentIRONS, 1934; Herman et al., 1962; Montgomery et al., 1980
-MississippiPresentGoodpasture and Anderson, 1962
-MissouriPresentHalliwell, 1972In captive birds
-New JerseyLocalisedWorth, 1956Princeton, banding station
-New YorkPresentCOULSTON and MANWELL, 1941; Leibovitz, 1969; Tangredi, 1974; Donnelly and Crane, 1984
-North DakotaPresentPearson et al., 1975; Wheeldon et al., 1985In captive birds.
-OklahomaPresentJohnson and Castro, 1986In captive birds
-OregonPresentDickenson, 1967; Crawford et al., 1979; Crawford, 1986
-PennsylvaniaWidespreadLocke, 1961; Ratcliff, 1967; Petrak, 1982
-South CarolinaPresentSTODDARD, 1931
-TennesseePresentGoodpasture and Anderson, 1962
-TexasWidespreadDubose, 1965; Clark et al., 1988; Wilson and Crawford, 1988; Docherty et al., 1991
-VirginiaPresentDubose, 1965
-WashingtonPresentGiddens et al., 1971; Landolt and Kocan, 1976; Fitzner et al., 1985; Garner, 1989

Central America and Caribbean

BarbadosPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
British Virgin IslandsPresent1995OIE Handistatus, 2005
Cayman IslandsPresent2000OIE Handistatus, 2005
CubaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
DominicaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Dominican RepublicPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
GuadeloupePresent1997OIE Handistatus, 2005
GuatemalaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
HondurasPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
JamaicaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MartiniquePresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
NicaraguaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
PanamaWidespreadKirmse and Loftin, 1969
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Trinidad and TobagoWidespreadSince 1964 Invasive Tikasingh et al., 1982

South America

ArgentinaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
BoliviaPresentHitchner and Clubb, 1980
BrazilPresentReis and Nobrega, 1937; OIE Handistatus, 2005
ChilePresentCubillos et al., 1979
ColombiaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
EcuadorPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Vargas, 1987; Curry and Grant, 1989; Thiel et al., 2005
Falkland IslandsLocalisedIntroduced2004 Invasive Munro, 2006Port Stevens, New Island and Albemarle
ParaguayPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
PeruPresentKirmse, 1967
UruguayPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
VenezuelaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005

Europe

AustriaPresentLoupal et al., 1985
BelarusPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
CroatiaPresent1996OIE Handistatus, 2005
CyprusPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Czech RepublicPresentRajchard and Rachac, 2001
DenmarkPresentChristiansen, 1949; OIE Handistatus, 2005
FrancePresentHeusinger, 1844; Megnin, 1878; Curasson, 1946; OIE Handistatus, 2005
GermanyPresentHartig and Frese, 1973; Kitzing, 1980; Kaleta and Marschall, 1982; Luthgen, 1983; Herbst and Krauss, 1989; Krone et al., 2004
IrelandPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
ItalyPresentMaggiora and Valenti, 1903; Rinaldi et al., 1972; Mani et al., 1990; Chiocco, 1992; Cerrone et al., 1999
MacedoniaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MaltaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MoldovaPresent1997OIE Handistatus, 2005
NetherlandsPresentDe Jong, 1912; Jansen, 1942; OIE Handistatus, 2005
NorwayPresentHolt and Krogsrud, 1973; Weli et al., 2004
PolandPresentLandowska-Plazewska and Plazewski, 1968
PortugalPresent2003OIE Handistatus, 2005
-MadeiraLocalisedIllera et al., 2008On Porto Santo Island only
RomaniaPresentCociu et al., 1972
Russian FederationPresent2002OIE Handistatus, 2005
SlovakiaPresent1999OIE Handistatus, 2005
SpainWidespreadVogelsang, 1938; Groth, 1963; Orós et al., 1997; Hernández et al., 2001; Buenestado et al., 2004
SwedenPresentHulphers, 1943
SwitzerlandPresentBouvier, 1946; Zangger and Muller, 1990
UKPresentMiles and Stocker, 1948; JENNINGS, 1954; Edwards, 1955; Poulding, 1960; Pomeroy, 1962; Keymer and Blackmore, 1964; Green, 1969; Kear and Brown, 1976; Nuttall et al., 1985
UkrainePresent2002OIE Handistatus, 2005

Oceania

AustraliaPresentBURNET and STANLEY, 1959; Harrigan et al., 1975; Chung and Spradbow, 1977; Wobeser, 1981; Annuar et al., 1983; Sutton and Fillipich, 1983; Raidal et al., 1996
French PolynesiaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
New CaledoniaPresentOIE Handistatus, 2005
New ZealandPresentWesterskov, 1953; Quinn, 1971; Austin et al., 1973
SamoaPresent2003OIE Handistatus, 2005

Pathology

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Gross lesions are as described in the Disease Course section. Microscopically, Avipoxvirus infection of epithelial cells in the strata germinativum causes hyperplastic growth. Maturing cells become hypertrophic as large granular eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusions are formed. The inclusion body may occupy the entire cytoplasm resulting in necrosis of the cell. Intranuclear inclusions have also been observed in cutaneous lesions from various wild birds. The localized epithelial hyperplasia and hypertrophy or stacking up of infected cells forms the characteristic pock seen in cutaneous avian pox (Karstad, 1971; Cunningham, 1978; van Riper and Forrester 2007).

In acute, septicaemic pox of canaries (Serinus canaria), lesions may be found on the serous membranes, liver, and lungs. Liver degeneration and necrosis may occur. Oedema and hyperemia of the lungs results in fibrinous pneumonitis that leads to pneumonia. Tumours are common in the lungs of surviving, post-poxvirus canaries (Ritchie 1995; van Riper and Forrester, 2007).  Similar lesions have been found in related finch species (Ritchie, 1995).

Diagnosis

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Clinical Diagnosis and Lesions

A presumptive diagnosis can be made on the basis of gross lesions: proliferative wart-like growths on exposed body regions, typically the head, feet, and legs.  Confirmation of Avipoxvirus can be made by histological examination of the lesions and identification of characteristic eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusions (Bollinger bodies).  Electron microscopy can also be used to directly identify Avipoxvirus virions (Tripathy, 1993). In-field biopsies of lesions on live wild passerines must be considered an invasive procedure and should be conducted with caution. Presumptive diagnosis, based on gross lesions, may be highly accurate (>90%) (Riper et al., 2002) and provide a reasonable alternative to definitive diagnosis in field situations where invasive sampling procedures are unwarranted or more sophisticated methods are logistically infeasible.

Laboratory Diagnosis

Confirmation of Avipoxvirus can also be made by demonstration of characteristic pocks on inoculated chorioallantoic membranes of chicken embryos or cytopathic effects (CPE) on various avian cell cultures (e.g. chicken embryo dermis or duck embryo cells) (Tripathy, 1993).  Immunofluorescence can be used to detect pox antigens in infected cells or suspect lesions (Tripathy, 1993).  An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is currently the preferred serological test to detect a humoral response to fowlpox (Tripathy and Reed, 2003).  Immunoblotting techniques have been employed to distinguish between fowlpox strains and pox species (Tripathy and Reed, 2003). Recently, genome-based probes and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques have been used to identify Avipoxvirus in lesion tissue (Thiel et al., 2005; Tadese et al., 2008) and blood (Farias et al., 2010). These molecular techniques are particularly useful in making a differential diagnosis.

Differential Diagnosis

The diphtheritic lesions of avian pox may be confused with infectious laryngotracheitis or infection with Trichomonas gallinae, but differentiation can be made by histological examination of the lesions or amplification of pathogen-specific genomic fragments (Tripathy and Reed, 2003).

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Digestive Signs / Anorexia, loss or decreased appetite, not nursing, off feed Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Digestive Signs / Bloody stools, faeces, haematochezia Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Digestive Signs / Difficulty in prehending or chewing food Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Digestive Signs / Inability to open and / or close beak Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Digestive Signs / Oral mucosal ulcers, vesicles, plaques, pustules, erosions, tears Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Diagnosis
Digestive Signs / Pharyngeal ulcers, vesicles, erosion, papules, sores pharynx Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Diagnosis
Digestive Signs / Tongue ulcers, vesicles, erosions, sores, blisters, cuts, tears Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Diagnosis
General Signs / Haemorrhage of any body part or clotting failure, bleeding Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
General Signs / Head, face, ears, jaw, nose, nasal, swelling, mass Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Diagnosis
General Signs / Hindfoot swelling, mass rear foot, feet Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
General Signs / Increased mortality in flocks of birds Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
General Signs / Lack of growth or weight gain, retarded, stunted growth Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
General Signs / Lameness, stiffness, stilted gait in birds Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
General Signs / Laryngeal, tracheal, pharyngeal swelling, mass larynx, trachea, pharynx Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Diagnosis
General Signs / Oral cavity, tongue swelling, mass in mouth Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Diagnosis
General Signs / Sudden death, found dead Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
General Signs / Swelling of the comb, wattles in birds Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Diagnosis
General Signs / Underweight, poor condition, thin, emaciated, unthriftiness, ill thrift Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
General Signs / Weight loss Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Nervous Signs / Dullness, depression, lethargy, depressed, lethargic, listless Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Blindness Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Conjunctival, scleral, papules Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Corneal ulcer, erosion Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Lacrimation, tearing, serous ocular discharge, watery eyes Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Obstruction of nasolacrimal duct Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Reproductive Signs / Decreased, dropping, egg production Poultry:Mature female,Other:Adult Female Sign
Respiratory Signs / Abnormal lung or pleural sounds, rales, crackles, wheezes, friction rubs Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Respiratory Signs / Dyspnea, difficult, open mouth breathing, grunt, gasping Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Respiratory Signs / Nasal mucosal ulcers, vesicles, erosions, cuts, tears, papules, pustules Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Diagnosis
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Nail, claw, hoof sloughing, separation Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Scarred skin Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin crusts, scabs Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin necrosis, sloughing, gangrene Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin papules Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Diagnosis
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin pustules Poultry:Day-old chick,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Diagnosis
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin vesicles, bullae, blisters Poultry:All Stages,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Juvenile,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult Male Diagnosis

Disease Course

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Infection occurs when viral particles are exposed to live epithelial cells through injuries to the skin or mucous membranes of the upper digestive and respiratory tract (Cunningham, 1978; Tripathy, 1993).  The virus penetrates the cell membrane within 1 hour of exposure and replication of viral DNA begins after 12 to 24 hours, reaching a maximum rate within 96 hours following exposure. Hyperplasia of host epithelium occurs between 36 and 72 hours after exposure.  Inclusion bodies are present after 72 hours (Cunningham, 1978).  At 72 hours, incomplete virions penetrate inclusion body vacuoles and acquire a membrane coat.  Virions separate from epithelial cells during necrosis and desquamation.  The incubation period is 4 to 10 days in domestic poultry and canaries (Serinus canaria) but can be prolonged to months in individual cases of wild birds (van Riper and Forrester, 2007).

Clinical disease is slow to develop and usually manifests in two forms. The more common form is dry or cutaneous pox, characterized by proliferative, warty lesions on the exposed skin of the feet, legs or head. The less common form is wet or diphtheritic pox, involving the mucous membranes of the upper digestive and respiratory tract. Cutaneous pox is usually a mild and self-limiting disease.  In the first two weeks, lesions grow slowly, coalesce and, ultimately, become inflamed and hemorrhagic before they begin to heal. The course of mild cutaneous fowlpox usually lasts 3-4 weeks but can be extended if a particularly virulent strain in involved. Cutaneous pox in wild birds may be a protracted illness of several months (Kirmse, 1967).  Proliferative cutaneous pox lesions in the area of the eyes and or mouth may cause blindness and often interferes with feeding.  During this time, birds lose weight and, if the disease is extended in duration, may become emaciated and eventually die of starvation (Forrester and Spalding, 2003; van Riper and Forrester, 2007). Pox lesions may also provide a route of infection for bacteria and fungi (Karstad, 1971; van Riper and Forrester, 2007). Lesions on the feet often lead to the loss of digits (Riper et al., 2002).

Lesions of the diphtheritic form of avian pox occur on the mucous membranes of the mouth, trachea, and oesophagus and may be a single proliferative growth or a coalescence of lesions that form a necrotic, cheesy pseudomembrane (Tripathy, 1993). Lesions in the nasal passages, larynx, or trachea are often accompanied with labored breathing, gasping, and rales and may obstruct breathing leading to suffocation.  Symptoms get progressively severe and mortalities occur by the second week of infection (Tripathy, 1993). A third form of avian pox, systemic or septicaemic pox, is seen in canaries and other highly susceptible species such as Hawaiian honeycreepers (Drepanidinae) (van Riper and Forrester, 2007). Laboured breathing is often the only clinical sign observable in afflicted canaries and is soon followed by death caused by pneumonia (Ritchie, 1995).

Epidemiology

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Since Avipoxvirus is resistant to desiccation and stable in most natural environments, virus may be mechanically transmitted by a number of different routes including biting arthropods, direct contact with contaminated surfaces or individuals, and ingestion/inhalation of infective food, water or dust in captive conditions (van Riper and Forrester, 2007). The virus cannot penetrate intact epidermis so some injury or laceration to the skin or mucous membrane is involved (Karstad, 1971; Tripathy, 1993).

While Avipoxvirus has a worldwide distribution and may occur throughout the year, disease is most prevalent in the warmer and moister regions and seasons. The seasonal peak in disease incidence often coincides with seasonal peaks in vector abundance suggesting that blood feeding by arthropods, particularly mosquitoes, is perhaps the most common route of transmission (Akey et al., 1981; van Riper and Forrester, 2007).  Similarly, avian pox is more prevalent where mosquito populations are greatest (Forrester, 1991; Riper et al. 2002). The virus does not undergo replication in the vector but mosquitoes can remain infective for several weeks (DaMassa, 1966).

Along with vector abundance, host density and susceptibility are key factors influencing avian pox epizootiology (van Riper and Forrester, 2007).  Outbreaks are most common and severe when domestic and wild bird densities are at their highest.  High concentrations of birds occur in production and rehabilitation facilities as well as backyard feeding stations (Tripathy and Reed, 2003; Hansen, 1999). Under these conditions, transmission by direct contact with contaminated surfaces, aerosols, and other infected birds may become more significant than arthropod vectors.

Chickens, and presumably wild birds, are susceptible to avian pox at all ages. Among chickens the course of the disease lasts from 2 to 4 weeks (Cunningham, 1978).  In unvaccinated chickens, mortality associated with cutaneous pox is negligible but wet pox may cause up to 50-60 % mortality (Beckman, 2007). Higher rates of mortality have been seen among captive pigeons, quail, and canaries (Serinus canaria) (Tripathy, 1993).

Individual cases of avian pox in wild birds are usually described as mild and self-limiting, but little is known about pox mortality in wild bird populations.  Avian pox appeared to affect survivorship of fledgling Galapagos Mockingbirds (Nesomimus parvulus) in the Galapagos (Curry and Grant, 1989) and there is evidence that avian pox contributes to population declines of Elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis) in the Hawaiian Islands (VanderWerf, 2001; VanderWerf, 2009).  Endemic birds of the Hawaiian Islands appear particularly susceptible to Avipoxvirus and experimental infections of Laysan Finch (Telespiza cantans) and Hawaii Amakihi (Hemignathus virens) have documented high rates of mortality (Warner, 1968; Riper et al., 2002).

Impact

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Economic Impact

In chickens, cutaneous fowlpox seldom results in economically significant mortality; however, the diphtheritic form of fowlpox can cause up to 60% mortality in unvaccinated chickens.  Cutaneous fowlpox can cause a transient drop in layer egg production, up to 15%, and reduces growth rate in young birds (Beckman, 2007).  On a flock basis, outbreaks of fowlpox generally last 6-10 weeks resulting in significant economic loss in egg production.  For domestic turkeys, the reduced weight gain in market birds has a larger impact (Cunningham, 1978).  Septicaemic canarypox can have a great impact on individual commercial canary breeders due to the high incidence and mortality rates associated with this form of the disease (Ritchie, 1995).

Impact on Biodiversity

Although avian pox is typically an endemic, mild, and self-limiting disease among wild birds, epizootics among endemic birds on remote islands  such as the Hawaiian Islands, (van Riper et al., 2004), Galapagos Archipelago (Vargas, 1987), Canary Islands (Smits et al., 2005) and Falkland Islands (Munro, 2006) are characterized by high morbidity and mortality.

Zoonoses and Food Safety

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Avian poxviruses are not known to be transmissible to humans (Cunningham, 1978; Tripathy and Reed, 2003). Poultry carcasses affected with generalized fowlpox lesions are condemned.  Carcasses may be approved for consumption, if tissue affected by localized, cutaneous fowlpox lesions is removed in processing (Herenda and Franco, 1996).

Disease Treatment

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There are no drugs effective against Avipoxvirus (Tripathy and Reed, 2003).  As supportive care, lesions can be washed with Lugol's solution of iodine, silver nitrate or saline solutions and treated with a topical antimicrobial agent.  A broad spectrum oral antibiotic may be administered to prevent secondary bacterial infections (van Riper and Forrester 2007).  Environmental temperature should be elevated (Cunningham 1978).

Prevention and Control

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Immunization and Vaccines

Vaccination is perhaps the best way to prevent poxvirus infections among domestic fowl and many pet trade species.  A number of vaccines have been developed and are commonly used in poultry, pigeons, psittacines and canaries (Ritchie, 1995; Tripathy and Reed, 2003).  Vaccines can be administered prophylactically or to contain an outbreak.  Chickens can be initially vaccinated with an attenuated-live virus vaccine at four weeks and vaccinated again a month or two before egg production (Cunningham, 1978).  Older chickens can be vaccinated annually one to two months before the appearance of mosquitoes (Tripathy and Reed, 2003).  Psittacines should be vaccinated with inactivated psittacine poxvirus at quarantine stations and given a booster 2 – 8 weeks later.  Canaries should be vaccinated at the time of fledging and annually just prior to the mosquito season (Ritchie, 1995).

Chicks can be vaccinated at hatching with attenuated fowl pox virus of tissue culture origin but this will not produce lasting immunity. If transmission is unlikely in the interim, initial vaccination could be postponed until after 4 weeks of age when a better and lasting immune response can be expected.

Vaccines are usually administered by wing-web injections or brushing on defeathered follicles (Cunningham, 1978).  Birds should be healthy at the time of vaccination and all susceptible birds should be vaccinated at the same time.  All vaccine vials and vaccination equipment should be thoroughly disinfected before disposal.  A successful immunization (“take”) is made evident by a swelling at the injection site 7-10 days following vaccination.  Immunity develops 10-14 days following vaccination (Tripathy and Reed, 2003).  Commercial vaccines have not been used with wild bird populations.

Husbandry Methods and Good Practice

Disease can be prevented by eliminating conditions that foster transmission.  In production and captive settings, mosquitoes, other biting flies and mites should be effectively excluded from housing or be controlled by elimination of larval habitats and/or the appropriate use of pesticides (Karstad, 1971; van Riper and Forrester, 2007).  Newly arrived and diseased birds should be quarantined until properly immunized or free of any sign of disease.  Bird densities should be reduced whenever possible and poultry house dust should be controlled. Birds should be well fed and maintained in an appropriate environment to avoid stress (Cunningham, 1978). Biosecurity measures should be in place to prevent the movement of pox-contaminated equipment (Beckman 2007).

Among wild birds, avian pox may be prevented by discontinuing the practice of backyard feeding stations.  Alternatively, bird feeders and bird baths should be routinely disinfected with a 5 – 10% bleach solution every two weeks (van Riper and Forrester, 2007).  Eliminating man-made larval mosquito habitat should reduce local transmission.  This is particularly important on remote islands, such as the Hawaiian Islands, where avian pox viruses and vectors are introduced species and endemic birds are highly susceptible (Riper et al. 2002; Atkinson et al. 2005).

Farm-Level and Local Control

Control of avian pox outbreaks in production and captive settings depends on similar actions to those needed for prevention.  In addition, all surfaces, perches, feeders etc. should be disinfected with a strong disinfectant such as 10 % bleach solution or Virkon-S (Beckman, 2007).  Diseased birds should be separated from uninfected birds and great care must be taken not to spread the virus directly.  Birds can be vaccinated during an outbreak and this may significantly slow down the spread of disease.  Finally, vector control is essential to stop an outbreak.

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk Project (HEAR)http://www.hear.org/
Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Wildlife Diseases, Avian Poxhttp://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10370_12150_12220-26362--,00.html
USDA, National Agricultural Library National Invasive Species Information Centerhttp://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/microbes/fowlpox.shtml
USGS, National Wildlife Health Center, Avian Pox factsheethttp://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/other_diseases/avian_pox.jsp
USGS, Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, Research Summarieshttp://biology.usgs.gov/pierc/PMPoxMalaria.htm
World Conservation Union, ISSG Global Invasive Species Database, Avipoxvirushttp://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=444&fr=1&sts=

Organizations

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UK: Falklands Conservation, 1 Princes Avenue, London N3 2DA, http://www.falklandsconservation.com/

USA: USDA-APHIS-NVSL: UDSA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, National Veterinary Services Laboratory, PO Box 844, Ames, IA 50010, http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/lab_info_services/

USA: USGS-NWHC - National Wildlife Health Center, 6006 Schroeder Road Madison, Wisconsin 53711, http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/

USA: USGS-PIERC: Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, Kilauea Field Station, PO Box 44, Hawaii National Park Hawaii, http://biology.usgs.gov/pierc/

Galapagos Islands: Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS), run by the Charles Darwin Foundaton, Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos, http://www.darwinfoundation.org/english/pages/index.php

Contributors

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21/07/10 Original text by:

Dennis LaPointe, US Geological Survey, Hawaii, USA

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