Pigeons Circovirus

The circo virus started to be a problem in the early 90’s. The young birds had the following main symptoms:

  • vomiting
  • food retention in the crop
  • green diarrhea

Adenovirus and E.coli were considered the main problems. The syndrome got the name of Adeno coli. This disease appeared very suddenly in many lofts at the same time. With rest and treatment the youngsters recovered quickly. In the recent years, the problem seems to be worse than before.

A group of veterinarians from Germany released a scientific article on their findings on what they call young bird disease syndrome. They tested 45 lofts with the active young birds syndrome. They found CIRCO VIRUS in ALL 45 lofts and NO Adenovirus was found in any of them!

The most severe symptoms were in birds aged 4 to 12 weeks. The main symptoms were:

  • green to black diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • delayed crop emptying
  • no appetite
  • drinking a lot of water
  • reluctance to fly
  • sneezing

In Holland, Belgium and Germany veterinarians doing research on Circo virus tested stray birds lost in different races and while they appeared healthy overall, nearly all of them tested positive for Circo virus. This virus may be one of the causes responsible for unexplained losses during training and racing.

Pigeons infected with Circo virus will be more susceptible to any other common disease. The symptoms seen will often be as a result of the other secondary infection rather than the Circo virus itself.

Pigeons with Circo virus, when vaccinated do not develop the same level of immunity as healthy birds. Circo virus is the “AIDS of pigeons” lowering the immunity of the bird.

What is the treatment?

  1. REST the birds. The longer you rest the birds the better. We can start racing them again when they show us they are ready to go: they become lively again and fly around the loft more and with great pleasure.
  2. Isolate the badly affected birds.
  3. Disinfect the loft, water and food trays.
  4. Use immunity booster products and probiotics. The probiotics replace the good bacteria lost during vomiting and diarrhea or after the antibiotic treatment. They also boost immunity.
  5. Treat secondary infections.


There is no vaccine for Circo virus. Also, pigeons with Circo virus do not always develop a full immunity when vaccinated against Paramyxo. So when young birds are being vaccinated for the first time you should vaccinate them again 4 weeks later. The first vaccination should be at the weaning age so that immunity for Paramyxo has the time to develop before the Circo virus strikes and lowers the immunity of the young bird.

The future

Some families of birds have a stronger natural resistance than others – use them for breeding. Hopefully, by doing so, we can create tougher birds. Also, the birds that are becoming ill now will HOPEFULLY pass on some immunity to their babies so that the virus will become less and less of a problem in the next years.

Dr RC Conradie (South Africa)

One thought on “Pigeons Circovirus”

  1. A very good explanation of the young bird sickness and good advice telling the fancier what to do.

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