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fowlpox

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Datasheet

fowlpox

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 25 September 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Animal Disease
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • fowlpox
  • Overview
  • Avipoxviruses infect a wide variety of birds, including domestic, wild and pet birds. All the avian poxviruses belong to the genus Avipoxvirus, within the subfamily Chordopoxvirinae of the family Poxv...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
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

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • fowlpox

International Common Names

  • English: avian diphtheria; canker; fowl pox; fowlpox, fowl pox; pox
  • Spanish: viruela aviar

Local Common Names

  • Italy: epitelioma dei polli

Overview

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Avipoxviruses infect a wide variety of birds, including domestic, wild and pet birds. All the avian poxviruses belong to the genus Avipoxvirus, within the subfamily Chordopoxvirinae of the family Poxviridae. Fowlpox virus is the type species of the genus Avipoxvirus. This genus also comprises the following species: turkeypox, canarypox, pigeonpox, quailpox, sparrowpox, starlingpox, juncopox and psittacinepox viruses. Other probable members of this genus are peacockpox, penguinpox, mynahpox and albatrosspox viruses. The term fowl pox initially included all pox virus infections of birds, but now it is often used to refer to the disease in commercial poultry, such as chickens and turkeys.

Fowl pox is a common and economically important disease of domestic birds and is distributed worldwide. It is slow spreading and characterized by the formation of proliferative lesions, scabs on the skin and diphtheric lesions in the upper regions of the respiratory and digestive tracts.

The first description of the occurrence of pox virus infection in birds appeared in Europe around 1850. Bollinger, in 1873 published his microscopic findings on pox virus-infected cells from chickens. Large, cytoplasmic, eosinophilic inclusions were observed, which are now known as Bollinger’s inclusion bodies. The first attempts to grow this virus in chicken embryos were made by Centanni in Italy in 1902 (Bolte et al., 1999).

Distribution

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Avian pox viruses are distributed worldwide in domestic poultry and wild birds. Their incidence, however, is variable in different geographical regions because of:

  1. differences in climate (the incidence is more important in countries located in tropical areas), management and hygienic conditions
  2. presence of vectors
  3. practice of prophylactic immunization. In many developed countries, regular immunization of poultry flocks has virtually eliminated avian pox in commercial poultry,

In recent years, reports of pox virus infection in wild birds have increased (Bolte et al., 1999; Kreuder et al., 1999; Tripathy et al., 2000). This may be important because wild birds may serve as virus carriers and may transmit and/or maintain the infection in a commercial poultry flock.

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

AfghanistanPresent
AzerbaijanLast reported1990OIE Handistatus, 2005
BahrainReported present or known to be presentSamour and Cooper, 1993; OIE Handistatus, 2005
BhutanLast reported1996OIE Handistatus, 2005
Brunei DarussalamNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
ChinaPresentHu Hongguan, 1982; Xu et al., 1993; Zhang et al., 1996
-Hong KongReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
-ShaanxiPresentWang et al., 1996
-ShanxiPresentWang et al., 1996
Georgia (Republic of)Last reported1983OIE Handistatus, 2005
IndiaMathur et al., 1972; Pandey and Mallick, 1974; OIE Handistatus, 2005
-Andhra PradeshPresentRao, 1965
IndonesiaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
IranLast reported2000OIE Handistatus, 2005
IraqReported present or known to be presentAlfallugi et al., 1979; Tantawi et al., 1981; Al-Ani, 1986; OIE Handistatus, 2005
IsraelReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
JapanLast reported2003Kawashima, 1962; Sato et al., 1962; Iwata et al., 1986; Tsai et al., 1997; OIE Handistatus, 2005
JordanReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
KazakhstanDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Korea, DPROIE Handistatus, 2005
Korea, Republic ofReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
KuwaitLast reported1996OIE Handistatus, 2005
LebanonLast reported2000OIE Handistatus, 2005
MalaysiaPresentIderis and Ibrahim, 1986; Karpinski and Clubb, 1986; Reed and Schrader, 1989
-Peninsular MalaysiaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
-SabahLast reported1997OIE Handistatus, 2005
-SarawakReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MongoliaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MyanmarReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
NepalReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
OmanNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
PhilippinesReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
QatarNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Saudi ArabiaReported present or known to be presentOstrowski et al., 1995; Sami et al., 1995
SingaporeLast reported1989OIE Handistatus, 2005
Sri LankaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
SyriaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
TaiwanReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
TajikistanDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
ThailandReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
TurkeyNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
TurkmenistanNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
United Arab EmiratesReported present or known to be presentKiel, 1985; Samour and Cooper, 1993; OIE Handistatus, 2005
UzbekistanLast reported1995OIE Handistatus, 2005
VietnamReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
YemenNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005

Africa

AlgeriaLast reported1997OIE Handistatus, 2005
AngolaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
BeninReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
BotswanaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Burkina FasoNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
BurundiReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
CameroonReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Cape VerdeReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Central African RepublicNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
ChadNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Congo Democratic RepublicNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Côte d'IvoireReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
DjiboutiReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
EgyptLast reported1996Aly, 1995; OIE Handistatus, 2005
EritreaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
EthiopiaLast reported2002OIE Handistatus, 2005
GhanaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Guinea-BissauNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
KenyaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
LibyaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MadagascarReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MalawiReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MaliNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
MauritiusDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MoroccoReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MozambiqueReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
NamibiaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
NigeriaReported present or known to be presentSa'idu et al., 1994; Oladele et al., 1996; Halle et al., 1998; OIE Handistatus, 2005
RéunionNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
RwandaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Sao Tome and PrincipeReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
SenegalNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
SeychellesDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
SomaliaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
South AfricaReported present or known to be presentAllwright et al., 1994; Stannard et al., 1998; OIE Handistatus, 2005
SudanReported present or known to be presentEl-nur-Abd-El-Rahman et al., 1999; OIE Handistatus, 2005
SwazilandNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
TanzaniaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
TogoReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
TunisiaLast reported2003Loir and Ducloux, 1894; OIE Handistatus, 2005
UgandaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
ZambiaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
ZimbabweNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005

North America

BermudaDisease not reportedWingate et al., 1980; OIE Handistatus, 2005
CanadaReported present or known to be presentSyverton and McTaggert, 1944; Kuntze et al., 1968; Moffatt, 1972; Cox, 1980; OIE Handistatus, 2005
-QuebecPresent
MexicoReported present or known to be presentGraham, 1978; OIE Handistatus, 2005
USAReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
-ArizonaPresentBlakenship et al., 1966
-CaliforniaPresentMorishita et al., 1998
-FloridaPresentDeem et al., 1997; Kreuder et al., 1999
-GeorgiaPresentWheeldon et al., 1985
-HawaiiPresentLocke et al., 1965
-IdahoPresentDocherty et al., 1991
-IllinoisPresentSharma et al., 1968
-IndianaPresentBoosinger TR et al., 1982
-KentuckyPresentPoonacha and Wilson, 1981
-MarylandPresentHerman et al., 1962
-New JerseyPresentWorth, 1956
-New YorkPresentDonnelly and Crane, 1984
-OklahomaPresentJohnson and Castro, 1986
-OregonPresentCrawford and Oates, 1979
-PennsylvaniaPresentWorth, 1956
-TennesseePresentGoodpasture and Anderson, 1962
-TexasPresentClark et al., 1988
-VirginiaPresentDubose, 1965
-WashingtonPresentGarner, 1989

Central America and Caribbean

BarbadosReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
BelizeNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
British Virgin IslandsLast reported1995OIE Handistatus, 2005
Cayman IslandsLast reported2000OIE Handistatus, 2005
Costa RicaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
CubaReported present or known to be presentBoado et al., 1992; OIE Handistatus, 2005
CuraçaoDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
DominicaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Dominican RepublicReported present or known to be presentTripathy DN et al., 2000; OIE Handistatus, 2005
El SalvadorNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
GuadeloupeLast reported1997OIE Handistatus, 2005
GuatemalaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
HaitiDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
HondurasReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
JamaicaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MartiniqueReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
NicaraguaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
PanamaNo information availableKirmse and Lofteh, 1969; OIE Handistatus, 2005
Saint Kitts and NevisDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Trinidad and TobagoReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005

South America

ArgentinaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
BoliviaNo information availableHitchner and Clubb, 1980; OIE Handistatus, 2005
BrazilLast reported2003Fallavena et al., 1993; Back et al., 1995; OIE Handistatus, 2005
ChileToro et al., 1997; OIE Handistatus, 2005
ColombiaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
EcuadorReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Falkland IslandsDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
French GuianaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
GuyanaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
ParaguayReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
PeruReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
UruguayReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
VenezuelaLast reported1975OIE Handistatus, 2005

Europe

AndorraDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
AustriaDisease not reportedLoupal et al., 1985; OIE Handistatus, 2005
BelarusReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
BelgiumDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Bosnia-HercegovinaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
BulgariaNo information availableTzvetkova et al., 1995; OIE Handistatus, 2005
CroatiaLast reported1996OIE Handistatus, 2005
CyprusReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Czech RepublicReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
DenmarkReported present or known to be presentChristiansen, 1949; OIE Handistatus, 2005
EstoniaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
FinlandDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
FranceReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
GermanyReported present or known to be presentSeidel, 1972; OIE Handistatus, 2005
GreeceNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
HungaryOIE Handistatus, 2005
IcelandDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
IrelandReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Isle of Man (UK)Disease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
ItalyReported present or known to be presentChiocco, 1992; OIE Handistatus, 2005
JerseyDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
LatviaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
LiechtensteinDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
LithuaniaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
LuxembourgNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
MacedoniaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MaltaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MoldovaLast reported1997OIE Handistatus, 2005
NetherlandsReported present or known to be presentJong de, 1912; OIE Handistatus, 2005
NorwayDisease not reportedHolt and Krogsrud, 1973; OIE Handistatus, 2005
PolandDisease not reportedLandowska-Plazewska and Plazewski, 1968; OIE Handistatus, 2005
PortugalLast reported2003OIE Handistatus, 2005
RomaniaCociu et al., 1972; OIE Handistatus, 2005
Russian FederationLast reported2002OIE Handistatus, 2005
SlovakiaLast reported1999OIE Handistatus, 2005
SloveniaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
SpainVogelsang, 1938; Groth, 1963; Orós et al., 1997; OIE Handistatus, 2005
SwedenDisease never reportedHulphers, 1943; OIE Handistatus, 2005
SwitzerlandNo information availableBouvier, 1946; OIE Handistatus, 2005
UKReported present or known to be presentGreen, 1969; OIE Handistatus, 2005
-Northern IrelandLast reported1964OIE Handistatus, 2005
UkraineLast reported2002OIE Handistatus, 2005
Yugoslavia (former)No information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)Disease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005

Oceania

AustraliaReported present or known to be presentRaidal et al., 1996; OIE Handistatus, 2005
French PolynesiaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
New CaledoniaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
New ZealandReported present or known to be presentAustin et al., 1973; OIE Handistatus, 2005
SamoaLast reported2003OIE Handistatus, 2005
VanuatuDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Wallis and Futuna IslandsNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005

Pathology

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In the cutaneous form of the disease, small papules or nodules are observed in non-feathered areas of the skin. This means the comb, wattles, corners of the mouth, angle of the beak, commisure of the mouth, ventral surface of the wings, the legs and the vent. Lesions may coalesce into large greyish, wart-like plaques. Removal of the lesions, if not completely dry, leaves a haemorrhagic, moist surface. Scabs or crusts finally drop off, leaving a scar. In turkeys and pigeons, cutaneous lesions may spread to the feathered areas of the body (see pictures) (Tripathy, 1993).

In the diphtheric form of the disease, white, opaque nodules may develop in the mucous membranes of the mouth, infraorbital sinuses, larynx, pharynx, trachea and oesophagus. Their coalescence results in yellowish, necrotic, cheesy pseudomembranes that leave a bleeding surface on removal. Often a solitary proliferative growth may be observed (Tripathy, 1993). In an unusual outbreak of pox virus infection in turkeys, proliferative lesions occurred in the oviduct, cloaca and skin surrounding the vent (Metz et al., 1985).

Microscopically, infection by any pox virus initially results in cell enlargement and proliferation. Epithelial cells show marked hyperplasia and ballooning degeneration with large eosinophilic intracytoplasmic A-type inclusion bodies, named Bollinger bodies (see pictures). The diphtheric lesions are characterized by oedema and hydropic degeneration of the epithelium of the larynx and trachea, and by the presence of intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies in the epithelial cells of these organs.

Diagnosis

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Clinical diagnosis


Cutaneous and diphtheric lesions typical of avian pox infection may be confirmed by histopathology of the lesions or virus isolation. The cutaneous form must be differentiated from pantothenic acid or biotin deficiency in young chicks or from T-2 toxicosis. Diphtheric lesions associated with respiratory distress must be differentiated from infectious laryngotracheitis and vitamin A deficiency. In doves and pigeons, the diphtheric form may be mistaken for lesions caused by Trichomonas gallinae (Tripathy and Reed, 1997).


Microscopic diagnosis


Observation of the inclusion bodies (Bollinger bodies) in the cell cytoplasm in a smear, stained with Wright’s stain or by the Gimenez method prepared from lesions is characteristic of pox virus infection. Protocol of this staining can be found at http://www.oie.int/eng/normes/mmanual/A_00121.htm. The method uses fuschin and malachite green, and can be used for both cutaneous and diphtheric lesions. The elementary bodies of fowl pox virus stain red and are either within intact structures of various sizes representing inclusion bodies, or scattered (approximately 0.2-0.3 micrometres).

Presence of characteristic lesions may also be observed in a tissue section prepared from a lesion processed by conventional histological methods. Electron microscopy may also be useful to demonstrate virus particles in lesions by negative staining or in ultra-thin sections. However, these methods do not provide a species diagnosis of the avipoxvirus involved in the lesion.


Viral isolation and identification


Avian pox viruses can be isolated by inoculating material from suspect lesions into susceptible birds, developing embryos or cell cultures from avian origin. Isolation is attempted from nodular or diphtheric lesions, which are removed with sterile scissors and forceps by cutting deep into the epithelial tissue. A suspension of this material is prepared in Hanks balanced salt solution or nutrient broth containing antibiotics and used for inoculation. The developing chicken embryo, 9 to 12 days, is the preferred host for viral isolation. Approximately 0.1 ml. of the tissue material is inoculated onto the CAM and the embryo is incubated at 37ºC. The embryo is examined to detect the presence of pock lesions in the CAM at 5 to 7 days post infection. White opaque pocks or a generalized thickening of the CAM is observed if the suspect material contains the pox virus. Histopathological examination of the CAM should be done to confirm the presence of intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies characteristic of pox virus infection. It has to be noted that some pox virus strains from wild birds do not grow in CAM and inoculation of susceptible birds is necessary to confirm the pathogenicity of the viral agent.

If susceptible birds are used for viral isolation, a homogenate of the lesion is applied by cutaneous scarification to the comb or any other unfeathered area of the skin. Susceptibility of the bird species is demonstrated by development of lesions at the site of inoculation.

Cell cultures are not usually employed for initial isolation of avian pox viruses. Chicken embryo fibroblasts, chicken embryo dermis and kidney cells and duck embryo fibroblasts may be used to propagate the virus. Viral infection in chicken fibroblasts causes cell rounding followed by cell degeneration and necrosis, by 4 to 6 days post infection. Adaptation of the virus to the host system is sometimes necessary, since not all strains produce cytopathic effects on initial inoculation (Tripathy and Reed, 1997; Tripathy, 1993).


Serological diagnosis


Serological methods have been mainly used to characterize antigenically the relationship among avian pox viruses, but are not generally practical as routine diagnostic tests.


Virus neutralisation


After virus/serum interaction the residual activity may be assayed in embryonating chicken eggs or cell cultures. Only some selected strains of the virus have plaque-forming ability in chicken embryo cells. Neutralizing antibodies develop within 1-2 weeks of infection.


Agar gel immunodiffusion


Precipitating antibodies can be detected by reacting sera against partially purified viral antigens, which are prepared by sonification and homogenization of infected lesion material or infected CAMs. The partial purification of the antigen is done by sonification and homogenization with 50% volume of a fluorocarbon such as Genetron 113(Allied Chemicals). The suspension is centrifuged and the supernatant aqueous layer is rehomogenized with fluorocarbon. The supernatant from this is collected and used as the antigen. Gel-diffusion medium is made with 1% agar, 8% sodium chloride and 0.01% thiomersol. Precipitation lines develop 24-48 hours after incubation of the antigen with the antibody to homologous or closely related strains. The test is less sensitive than the ELISA or the passive haemagglutination test.


Passive haemagglutination


Tanned sheep or horse red cells are sensitized with a partially purified fowlpox viral antigen. The antigen is prepared from infected CAMs by treatment with fluorocarbon as above. PHA is more sensitive than AGID. The test will give cross-reactions among avian pox viruses.


Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay


ELISAs have been developed to detect humoral antibodies to fowlpox virus. They are capable of detecting antibodies at 7 days post infection.


Molecular diagnosis


Restriction endonuclease analysis has been used to compare the genomes of different avian pox viruses and is useful for comparison of field isolates and vaccine strains of fowlpox virus. In addition, cloned genomic fragments of fowlpox virus can be use effectively as nucleic acid probes for diagnosis of fowlpox virus infection (Tripathy and Reed, 1997). A polymerase chain reaction technique that amplifies a region within the gene coding the 4b-core-protein of fowlpox virus has been developed recently (Lee and Lee, 1997).

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Digestive Signs / Anorexia, loss or decreased appetite, not nursing, off feed Poultry:All Stages Sign
Digestive Signs / Difficulty in prehending or chewing food Poultry:All Stages Sign
Digestive Signs / Dysphagia, difficulty swallowing Poultry:All Stages Sign
Digestive Signs / Esophageal obstruction Poultry:All Stages Sign
Digestive Signs / Hepatosplenomegaly, splenomegaly, hepatomegaly Sign
Digestive Signs / Oral mucosal ulcers, vesicles, plaques, pustules, erosions, tears Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
Digestive Signs / Pharyngeal ulcers, vesicles, erosion, papules, sores pharynx Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Dehydration Poultry:All Stages Sign
General Signs / Discomfort, restlessness in birds Poultry:All Stages Sign
General Signs / Exercise intolerance, tires easily Poultry:All Stages Sign
General Signs / Hindfoot swelling, mass rear foot, feet Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Hindlimb swelling, mass in hind leg joint and / or non-joint area Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Increased mortality in flocks of birds Poultry:All Stages Sign
General Signs / Lack of growth or weight gain, retarded, stunted growth Poultry:All Stages Sign
General Signs / Laryngeal, tracheal, pharyngeal swelling, mass larynx, trachea, pharynx Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Oral cavity, tongue swelling, mass in mouth Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Orbital, periorbital, periocular, conjunctival swelling, eyeball mass Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Reluctant to move, refusal to move Sign
General Signs / Swelling mass oviducts Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Swelling of the comb, wattles in birds Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Swelling of the limbs, legs, foot, feet, in birds Sign
General Signs / Swelling skin or subcutaneous, mass, lump, nodule Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Swelling, mass, prolapse, cloaca Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Swelling, mass, wing Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
General Signs / Underweight, poor condition, thin, emaciated, unthriftiness, ill thrift Poultry:All Stages Sign
General Signs / Weight loss Poultry:All Stages Sign
Nervous Signs / Dullness, depression, lethargy, depressed, lethargic, listless Poultry:All Stages Sign
Reproductive Signs / Decreased, dropping, egg production Sign
Respiratory Signs / Abnormal breathing sounds of the upper airway, airflow obstruction, stertor, snoring Poultry:All Stages Sign
Respiratory Signs / Abnormal lung or pleural sounds, rales, crackles, wheezes, friction rubs Poultry:All Stages Sign
Respiratory Signs / Coughing, coughs Poultry:All Stages Sign
Respiratory Signs / Dyspnea, difficult, open mouth breathing, grunt, gasping Poultry:All Stages Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Hyperkeratosis, thick skin Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin crusts, scabs Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin papules Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin plaque Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin pustules Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin scales, flakes, peeling Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin ulcer, erosion, excoriation Poultry:All Stages Diagnosis
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Skin vesicles, bullae, blisters Sign

Disease Course

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Infection with avipoxviruses usually resultsin one of two forms:



  1. Cutaneous or dry form: characterized by the development of discrete nodular proliferative skin lesions in the non-feathered areas of the body.
  2. Diphtheric, pharyngeal or wet form: consisting of fibrinonecrotizing lesions in the mucous membranes of the mouth, oesophagus and upper respiratory tract.

Sporadically, other forms associated with pox virus infection have been reported: a mixed form, characterized by both, cutaneous and diphtheric lesions, a tumorous form and a per-acute form, associated with sudden death (Bolte et al., 1999).

Both cutaneous and diphtheric forms have a relatively acute course. In the cutaneous form, experimental intradermal inoculation resulted in primary lesions (papules) by day 5 and 6 post infection. In the diphtheric form, respiratory signs were observed 7 days after intralaryngeal inoculation and mortality began at 10 days post infection, reaching 45% of the animals (Tripathy, 1993). Incubation period of the naturally occurring disease varies from 4 to 10 days in chickens, turkeys and pigeons and is about 4 days in canaries. The course of the natural disease may be approximately 3 to 4 weeks (Tripathy and Reed, 1997).

Clinical signs in naturally infected birds vary depending on the virulence of the virus, susceptibility of the host, distribution and type of lesions in an infected bird and other complicating factors (Tripathy and Reed, 1997). Lesions on one or both eyelids, in the cutaneous form, may lead to partial or complete closure of the eyes and the birds may be unable to reach the water and feed. In the diphtheric form, with affects on the oral mucosa, difficulty in feeding and drinking may occur and the birds become anorexic, lose weight, and eventually die. Lesions in the respiratory passages may cause gasping, rales and laboured breathing, leading to respiratory distress and death due to suffocation. Transient drop in egg production in layers has also been associated with pox virus infection (Tripathy, 1993).

The disease spreads slowly, and morbidity and mortality are related to the susceptibility of the flock, virulence of the virus strain, environmental and physical stresses, concentration of the birds and the presence of other infections in the flock. Mortality is negligible in the mild cutaneous form of the disease, if infection does not involve the eyes or mucous membranes. The mortality rates of the diphtheric and mixed forms of the disease are higher than in the cutaneous form, however the mortality also depends on the action of the predisposing factors already mentioned. In highly susceptible flocks, a virulent virus strain may result in morbidity and mortality rates as high as 50%. High mortality has been observed in pigeons, quails and canaries. Of all pox virus infections, canarypox is the most lethal and frequently leads to the death of all infected canaries (Tripathy and Reed, 1997).

Infection occurs when cutaneous injuries on the feet, comb, other parts of the body or on the mucous membranes of the mouth or upper respiratory tract are exposed to virus-contaminated material. A breach in the skin or mucous membranes is required for the entry of the virus. Infection may be transmitted from bird to bird by direct contact, especially under crowded conditions where minor abrasions can occur as a result of fighting and pecking. Since the virus may survive in dried scabs for prolonged time, aerosols generated by feathers and dried scabs provide the conditions for both cutaneous and respiratory infections. Insects mechanically carrying the virus may deposit it in the eye. The virus may reach the laryngeal area via the lachrymal duct. Cells of the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract and mouth appear to be highly susceptible to the virus as initiation of the infection may occur in the absence of apparent trauma or injury. Local multiplication results in the development of lesions at the site of virus entry. Some authors have reported that, after intradermal or intratracheal inoculation, viraemia occurs and the virus may be localized in different organs (lung, liver, spleen, kidney and brain) at variable periods between 6 and 12 days post infection. Other authors have only detected viraemia if the birds are infected intravenously, but not when the inoculation route is intradermal (Tripathy, 1993).

There are indications that avian pox viruses may persist as latent infections in some flocks and that some species of wild birds may serve as latent pox virus carriers (Tripathy, 1993).

Epidemiology

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Most avian species are susceptible to avipoxviruses. Of the approximately 9000 birds species, about 232 species of birds, have been reported to acquire a natural pox virus infection and to have developed various forms of pox (Bolte et al., 1999). In both wild and commercial birds, the infection can occur in susceptible birds of any age, sex and breed.

Pox virus infection occurs through mechanical transmission of the virus to the injured or lacerated skin of the host. Mechanical transmission of fowl pox virus from infected toms to turkey hens, through artificial insemination has also been reported (Metz et al., 1985).

Insects serve as mechanical vectors of the virus. Eleven species of Diptera, specifically of the genus Culex and Aedes, have been found to be vectors of avian pox viruses (Akey et al., 1981). Mosquitoes have been shown to be capable of infecting a number of different birds after a single feeding on a bird infected with avian pox virus. The mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, has also been implicated in the spread of fowlpox virus (Shirinov et al., 1972). Infected mealworms Alphatobius diaperinus are also capable of retaining the fowlpox virus for a maximum of 6 days and elimination of this virus from the mealworm occurs through the excrement and this can be a source of contamination of the poultry environment (Casas et al., 1976). More recently, stick fast fleas have also been associated with fowl pox in chickens (Gustafson et al., 1997).

Impact: Economic

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No published data is available about treatment costs and economic losses due to pox virus infection, but it is known that, in domestic poultry, fowlpox and turkeypox infections cause economically important diseases. In domestic poultry flocks, avian pox can be a significant economic problem since, apart from mortality, it may cause a transient drop in egg production in layers and retarded growth in young birds (Tripathy, 1993).

Zoonoses and Food Safety

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The infectivity of avian poxviruses is limited to avian species and are not of public health significance. The human disease called chicken pox is not related to poultry or avipoxviruses.

Disease Treatment

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There are no specific treatments for avipox virus infections.

Prevention and Control

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Vaccination can be implemented in areas where the disease is endemic or where the disease has been diagnosed previously.

There are two types of live attenuated virus vaccines that are commercially available, these are fowlpox and pigeonpox vaccines. These vaccines can be of chicken embryo origin, prepared from infected CAM, or of tissue culture origin, usually prepared from chicken embryo fibroblast cultures. These vaccines should contain a minimum concentration of 105 EID50/ml. The chicken embryo origin vaccines are capable of producing serious disease in a flock if used improperly. Fowl pox and pigeon pox vaccines may be applied by the wing-web method to 4-week-old chickens and to pullets about 1-2 months before egg production starts. These vaccines may also be used to revaccinate chickens held for a second year of egg production. Turkeys are vaccinated by the thigh-stick method, usually when 2 to 3 months old. Pigeons are vaccinated by wing-web stick or feather-follicle methods. Vaccines of tissue culture origin can be administered as early as 1 day of age. These vaccines are considered to be genetically stable and protect immunocompetent birds for approximately 1 year (Tripathy, 1993).

Live attenuated vaccines from canarypox, quailpox and turkeypox viruses have also been developed and are commercially available in some countries.

Vaccination may produce a mild form of the disease. All birds within a house should be vaccinated on the same day. An important point is that if pox appears in a flock, as it spreads slowly, non-affected birds should be vaccinated. The positive vaccination response is indicated by the development of ‘takes’, which appear 5 to 10 days after vaccination and consists of swelling of the skin or a scab formation at the site of inoculation. Immunity develops 10 days after vaccination. Passively acquired immunity should be taken into account when vaccinating progeny from flocks, which either had experienced recent natural infection or had been vaccinated a short time ago (Tripathy, 1993).

Vaccination is usually carried out during spring or summer in areas where the disease occurs during fall and winter. In tropical climates, vaccination may be done at any time, because the disease may occur throughout the year (Tripathy, 1993).

As has been said previously, the pox virus has been used as a viral vector to create recombinant vaccines capable of expressing genes of several poultry and mammalian pathogens (Cardona et al., 1999; Elahi et al., 1999; Liu et al., 1999).

References

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Links to Websites

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Office International des Epizooties- Fowl Poxhttp://www.oie.int/eng/normes/mmanual/A_00121.htmChapter of the OIE diagnostics manual detailing approved methods for Fowlpox diagnosis.

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