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Today a very controversial subject both in Holland and Belgium is paratyphoid, caused by salmonellas.

Is it a shame that many are not aware of the seriousness of this disease?

In my opinion it is.

Paratyphoid is one of the illnesses in pigeons that is most common, most difficult to contain, and most harmful and can even lead to a large rate of deaths.

But it is kind of controversial among fanciers, vets and even scientists.

Marien, an experienced vet who races well is against any medication if birds look ok.

He claims the disease is exaggerated.

H de Weerd, another well known vet, says that 25% of the birds are carriers of the bacteria and he advises to treat birds in fall.

Raf Herbots (the son of') advises to both treat and vaccinate.

Understandably fanciers wonder what is right and what is wrong.

I want to give you my thoughts.

They are no more than thoughts, since 'The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.' (Oscar Wilde).



I personally have seen too many problems to not take it very serious.

Dr. de Weerd may exaggerate but even then I think I would fool myself by assuming that all of my about 80 birds are free.

Furthermore one should know that if tests in a lab do not show any signs of the sickness this does not automatically mean the sickness is not there.

And one should also realise that pigeons that seem in perfect health may have paratyphoid.

The signals most of us will know;

A wing that hangs down, no vitality, greenish droppings and especially babies that die in the nest or many eggs that are not filled.

But as I said it may also happen that birds suffer from salmonella that look perfectly healthy. Therefore I treat my birds every year in October for at least 12 days.

Champion W de Bruyn treats them for 3 weeks, Bosua in March as well.

In the past we had fantastic medicine, Altabactine, this is not available any more, but good specialised vets know how to make a product that is analogue to Altabactine (Chloramphenicol and furaltodone).    

Can we give birds medicine against salmonella while they are moulting?

Yes we can. The good thing about this medicine is that they do not harm the moult.

With worms and coccidioses this is different; especially wormers may damage the feathering.

So I take no chances and treat my birds.



And what about vaccinating?

Like I said some vets advocate it but they are a small minority.

Vaccinating without a treatment of at least 10 days before is wrong for sure.

Pathogens must first be eliminated by antibiotics since a vaccination is very hard for the birds. Those who vaccinated their birds without a cure before will sure agree. Fanciers who assume that after a vaccination birds will not be vulnerable for E Coli or Adeno (the so-called young bird disease) turned out to be wrong.

As I said a vaccination is hard for the birds; shortly after they look like falling apart and some may not survive.

Some years ago fanciers tried a combined vaccine against PMV, paratyphoid and pox. They have had their lesson.

Vets who advise such combined vaccinations may be good vets but not for pigeons!



Vaccinating only makes sense in what we call 'problem lofts'.

'Problem lofts' are lofts in which the disease frequently showed up.  

What should be done in such cases is the following thing:

First treat the birds with the appropriate antibiotics for at least 2 weeks.

Then vaccinate the birds and after about ' year vaccinate again!

The best is an auto vaccine (bred in a lab from the birds in the loft).

But even then you are not 100% sure your birds will be free from the pathogens from then on, which may be shown by the following truly happened story.



There was this man who was in serious trouble. His results were good but breeding was a nightmare that became worse and worse.

Again and again, year after year, babies died in the nest till the number of eggs that were filled became exceptions.

Paratyphoid was the name of this misery.

He treated his birds repeatedly, which seemed to work for his racers but not for his breeders.

Till the day came that he could not handle it any more and he got rid of all his breeders, but one.

That one was his basic bird which was always in good health.

New breeders were put into the stock loft but only 2 years later he faced the same problems that he had before.

He became so desperate that he got rid of his complete stock loft and only bred from the racers.

But this did not last for long.

Some years later this loft was again filled with breeders and now nothing went wrong. He discussed this with a scientist who was specialised in pigeons who said this old basic bird had for sure been the cause of his problems throughout the years.

Though it looked healthy it must have been a carrier of bacteria and it looks as if the scientist was right!



What I would advise to do are the following things:

- Cure your birds for 12 days or more yearly, especially if you often import birds.

- In case you vaccinate this should only be done after such a treatment.

- If it was proven your birds suffered from salmonella indeed the vaccination should be repeated after ' year.

- After your birds were vaccinated wait at least one month before you mate up the birds, if you mate them too soon you may be sure breeding will be a catastrophe.



The good news is that paratyphoid in winter does not mean it will be followed by a bad racing season.

Many fanciers found that the opposite is often true.

Why this is would be too long a story but a good specialised vet