Rotavirus pigeon disease

In 2016, a highly infectious rotavirus disease emerged in racing and non-racing pigeons in several states, including NSW. Rotavirus infection can result in high mortality rates in lofts over a short period. Rotavirus infection in domestic pigeons is not notifiable in NSW and does not need to be reported to the government. Contact your private veterinarian if you suspect rotavirus in your pigeons.

Biosecurity recommendations for the pigeon industry

  • Avoid mixing pigeons (e.g. racing, shows, sales) from unaffected and affected lofts
  • Pigeon fanciers whose loft has been affected should maintain strict biosecurity measures, including (but not limited to) not selling pigeons to unaffected lofts, loft hygiene and visitor restrictions to prevent disease spread
  • Pigeon fanciers in unaffected areas should still maintain strict biosecurity measures, including (but not limited to) no pigeon introductions from affected lofts, cleaning and disinfection of second hand equipment, visitor restrictions and cleaning clothing/boots after contact with other pigeons to prevent the entry and spread of the disease

Movements of pigeons – interstate and within NSW

  • There are no regulated movement restrictions in place for movement of pigeons within or into NSW
  • It is thought that some pigeons that have recovered from infection with rotavirus may shed the virus, and thus be infectious, for six months or more.  Based on this, it is strongly recommended to reduce movements of pigeons until a vaccine is available.

Pigeon rotavirus vaccine in Australia

  • Industry is currently developing a vaccine which could be available by the end of 2017. When the vaccine becomes available, consult your avian veterinarian for advice on using the vaccine to protect your birds

Rotavirus in other bird populations

  • It is unknown what impact the pigeon rotavirus may have on native pigeon populations. Feral pigeons are likely to be susceptible to the rotavirus.
  • If you see unusual signs of disease or deaths in a wild or native pigeon please contact your Wildlife Health Australia (WHA) State Coordinator. Contact details for your state WHA Coordinator can be found on the WHA website. If you are unable to reach your wildlife coordinator contact the NSW DPI Animal Biosecurity Emergency Hotline (24 hours) on 1800 675 888

More information